Kid from The Cove inspired by Derby flashback & new coach’s message that changed everything

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Looking back at pictures from Sydney Derbies of old sends Jaiden Kucharski on a trip down memory lane.

Sydney FC has been a part of the 21-year-old’s life for as long as he can remember; firstly as a fan, entrenched in the club’s active supporter base, The Cove. Then as an academy signing at 13. Then as a scholarship signing with the senior side at 19, an Isuzu UTE A-League debutant at 20, and a goalscorer in the Australian top flight at 21.

That last accomplishment was ticked off the to-do list earlier this month when Kucharski was handed the first league start of his senior career under new Sydney head coach Ufuk Talay, rewarding the faith with an impressive brace struck in Sydney’s 5-1 win over Adelaide United.

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As the Sky Blues return from the international break, a home clash with local rivals Western Sydney Wanderers presents on the Round 5 agenda. As does another opportunity to tick another item off of Kucharski’s to-do list.

“The two (derbies) I played in last year off the bench we lost the games at home,” he said. “I wasn’t part of the two wins we had at their ground. So hopefully, we can get a win this week which I’ll be a part of.

“It’s another year, another big game, the first game at Allianz (Stadium) since Round 1. They’re going to be up for it, they’re coming first at the moment, they’re playing some good football and we’re just trying to find our stride. It will be a really exciting game.”

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The bulk of Kucharski’s excitement stems from his memories of derbies of old, stood in The Cove as a youngster in a sea of Sky Blue, looking across the stadium to the Red and Black filling the opposing stands.

A 30,000-strong crowd is expected to flood through the gates at Allianz Stadium for this Saturday night’s Sydney Derby, reminding Kucharski of the heady days of Derbies past.

“I know as a former Cove member, the derbies we used to have,” he said.

“I think a photo came out last week… and you see the whole Wanderers bay full, the whole Sydney bay full, and both sides filled. If that comes back, I’m going to be excited playing.

“I think I’ll want to be playing my best football, as everyone on the field is going to do. If all the fans come out, it will make for an exciting game.”


Kucharski is full of confidence heading into Round 5 after his goalscoring exploits in his first-ever Isuzu UTE A-League start.

Two goals in Talay’s first game at the helm have ignited the A-Leagues career of a 21-year-old who in 2022 won Player of the Year honours in the National Premier League NSW Men’s with the Sky Blues, scoring 18 goals to earn his first contract with the Sky Blues in the A-League Men.


Kucharski paid credit to former Sydney head coach Steve Corica for giving him his first opportunity to crack into the senior squad – but looking ahead, has paid credit to Talay for the inspiring message that set the tone for the 5-1 momentum-turning win over Adelaide United to send the Sky Blues steaming toward the Sydney Derby.

“We had three games losing, we can’t be continuing this form,” he said. “We want to be striving for trophies, we want to make Asia every year. To be able to get that you need to win games, you can’t be losing or drawing games.

“We had come off three losses and really made a statement in Adelaide. Uffy just said it was all about intent for that game. If we wanted to win the game, if we wanted to show good fight we’d come out and win, which I think we did.

“The way we set up, he wants the best players in their best positions. If I’m running with the ball, I want to be doing that, he wants me doing that.

“The more I can get on the ball running at defenders creating chances, I want to be doing that.”

“We had a couple of sketchy weeks after we won the (Australia Cup),” Kucharski added.

“But the weekend (lifted) the boys. We’re definitely ready for the derby this weekend.”


Sydney FC v Western Sydney Wanderers
Date: Saturday, November 25 2023
Venue: Allianz Stadium
Kick-off: 7.45pm AEDT
Broadcast: Network 10 and Paramount+

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