Confident Zullo declares Sydney capable of winning everything

Sydney FC defender Michael Zullo confidently declared the Sky Blues were in the hunt to win all three trophies this season and would be disappointed if they didn’t at least go close to pulling off the treble.

Michael Zullo

Michael Zullo in action for Sydney FC during the FFA Cup Source: Getty Images

“We’ve got a really good squad this year and we want to make something of it and win all three trophies - the FFA Cup and the A-League premiership and championship,” Zullo told The World Game.

Asked if this was not just a case of a player routinely saying his club wanted to compete for everything and that the players would be disappointed if they didn’t push hard for all three titles, Zullo replied: “Yeah, 100 per cent, and I’m very much a realist as well, you know.

“I don’t think I’d be making these type of claims if I didn’t really believe the club could do it. I’ve been in a fair few change-rooms and I’ve got a pretty good idea about football teams and I can definitely say this team is one that can win everything.”

Sydney stunningly missed the six-team finals series in the 10-team A-League last season after getting to the grand final the year before.

But after a player cleanout and a series of high-profile signings they appear to have been successfully rebooted by coach Graham Arnold and are powering through the pre-season.

The Sky Blues have advanced to the quarter-finals of the FFA Cup, having beaten NSW NPL team Wollongong Wolves and fellow A-League outfit Perth Glory.

The game against Glory in Perth on Tuesday went to extra-time at 0-0 before Sydney won 2-0, but Zullo said the Sky Blues should have finished the opposition off much earlier than that.

“Wollongong was a good first crack and Perth was really challenging, a long flight and the field was absolutely awful,” he said.

“I think it did more harm to us than it did to Perth because we’re really trying to play out from the back this year and focus on build-up and having a poor pitch really hampered our ability to do that.

“So it turned into more of a physical battle than anything and I think we’re really proud of ourselves that we managed to dig deep over 120 minutes and get the result, even though it wasn’t a vintage game on our behalf.

“We had a heap of chances and we really dominated the entire time, to be honest. It could have easily been four or five nil to us by 90 minutes, but Rhys Williams was exceptional at centre-back for Perth and Liam Reddy was great in goal for them as well.

”I don’t think Sydney are going to have a problem scoring goals this season.”

Marquee striker signing Bobo made his first appearance for Sydney in that match, off the bench, and captain Alex Brosque, who had an injury-decimated last season for Sydney, came off the bench as well, as did the club’s number one central defender from last season, Matt Jurman.

Star midfielder Milos Dimitrijevic was named on the bench but wasn’t used, while winger Bernie Ibini isn’t ready to play yet.

Zullo said the strength of the squad was such that competition for places in the starting side was rapidly increasing.

“It’s going to be a massive fight for places and my experience is that the most successful teams win titles because that competition for places is so strong and players are so hungry and have to fight so hard to get in there,” he said.

“But what also benefits us, and what was one of the first things I noticed when I got here, was how good the players are with one another even though they’re fighting for spots. There is that mateship in the team and it’s definitely something I’m enjoying being a part of.”

Zullo said Arnold was encouraging him to go forward from left-back and that he loved that style of play.

“Yeah, that was a big drawcard for me, the interest ‘Arnie’ showed in me and the important role he wanted me to play here,” he said.

“Myself and Rhyan Grant at right-back, we essentially play really advanced and it’s something I’m relishing at the moment. It’s kind of like a hybrid left-back, left-wing role, so I definitely like what he’s trying to do with us this year and I’m enjoying the attacking side of things.

“I like to go forward, but you’ve got to be operating within the right framework and know someone behind you has got your back and that’s something I know I’ve got here.”

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5 min read
Published 2 September 2016 at 11:30am
By Greg Prichard