Arnold books in Ibini for Sydney FC comeback

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold has nominated a playing comeback date for star winger Bernie Ibini.

Bernie Ibini

Bernie Ibini playing for Sydney FC Source: Getty Images

Arnold said on Tuesday that Ibini would get some game-time in a behind-closed-doors trial game against defending A-League champions Adelaide United at Allianz Stadium on Thursday of next week, after not playing for 14 months due to injury.

The manager said it was just a bit too early for Ibini to appear for Sydney in their FFA Cup quarter-final clash with NSW NPL champions Blacktown City at Sydney United Sports Centre on Wednesday night, with the artificial surface at the stadium also playing a role in Arnold's decision to hold off on bringing the winger back.

"He's been doing all the training with us," Arnold said.

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“We’re not going to take a risk with him on the surface on Wednesday night, but he’s ahead of schedule and he’s looking good for round one.

"We've got another game next week against Adelaide before the comp starts, so he'll get some minutes in that."



The Sky Blues will play Western Sydney Wanderers in a massive derby in round one of the A-League at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, October 8, in front of what is tipped to be a record crowd for the competition.

Ibini's move to Europe last year quickly ended in disaster when he broke his leg in a training accident before he had even played a game for Club Brugge.

Arnold said he had changed Sydney's playing style heading into this season and that it would suit Ibini.

"We’re playing a higher pressing game, a much more physical game in intensity, and we've got quality in the front half of the field to create and score goals.

"Bernie will adapt to that very quickly. Condition-wise, he’s very good, he has always kept himself in good shape. He's doing a lot of training, a lot of running, and physically he feels good."

Arnold said he had plenty of respect for Blacktown coach Mark Crittenden and his players, many of whom either have A-League experience or are tipped to break into the A-League.

“Mark Crittenden is doing a great job,” he said. "He has obviously been extremely passionate about the sport for a long time.

"He has come through the ranks and has obviously taken Blacktown to the quarter-finals of the FFA Cup and won the NPL 1. I was at that game the other week.

"Now it's their last game of the season and they're going to throw everything at us, but we'll be well and truly ready."



Arnold nominated Mitch Mallia, Danny Choi, Patrick Antelmi and Joey Gibbs among the danger men in the Blacktown side.

"They've got some transition in attack in Mallia and Choi," he said. "We had Patrick Antelmi here training with us last year, so we know a bit about him, and obviously we know about Joey Gibbs."

Gibbs was a  young player at Sydney FC before eventually joining Wanderers.

"They've got players who have played in the A-League or been around the A-League and this is their opportunity to show what they've got," Arnold said.

"But for us, the most important thing is ourselves. If the mentality is right, the attitude is right, spot on, we go out there confident.”

The match presents another opportunity for marquee striker Bobo to continue to gel with his Sydney teammates with the season opener fast approaching.

"Bobo is here to play and score goals and help the team perform," Arnold said.

"We've got training today and tomorrow and we're looking forward to playing on a good surface. It's a flat surface and a good, consistent surface and that's perfect for us."


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4 min read
Published 19 September 2016 at 8:05pm
By Greg Prichard