Central Coast are going to be an even tougher team this year - without Brazilians (who take the place of Australians according to coach Lawrie McKinna). They have their traditional defensive blood and guts and, now, a devastating attack force in Sasho Petrovski and Nic Mrdja.
The plus for Sydney is that they will play better in the dry. Juninho, by his admission, was short of game time. Yet he still had flashes of brilliance. Unfortunately for Sydney, Popovic did not. Popovic's game was uneventful at best, at worst he was missing at key times. Alex Brosque got himself in the right place a few times but squibbed his opportunities (ah just like old times).
Central Coast did dominate in the first half. And Sasho got his revenge goal early.
But it was Peter Green's greeness that led to a refereeing blunder that let Central Coast off the hook. Heffernan clearly and with malice took Milligan out in the penalty box with a deliberate elbow to the head. Penalty! Send off! No. Free kick to Central Coast. Eh? Ref inexperience and mistakes could turn out to be a problem for the FFA. Particularly when trying to attract crowds to watch superstars like Juninho (who was repeatedly fouled in the first half).
Sydney dominated the second half but didn't look like scoring till the final 5 minutes. Then it seemed incredible that they didn't, particularly when jet-lagged under 23 star keeper Danny Vukovic decided to play up field and left his goal for the no hands men to defend (you probably had to see it to believe how Chancey that was).