Corica hints at debuts for star Sky Blue signings in Australia Cup semi: ‘They’re raring to go’

Sydney FC head coach Steve Corica has all-but confirmed off-season recruits Fabio Gomes and Gabriel Lacerda will make their club debuts against Melbourne City in the Australia Cup semi-finals on Sunday afternoon.

The two high-profile Brazilian recruits touched down in Sydney ahead of the 2023-24 Isuzu UTE A-League campaign, and will both push to debut in Sky Blue in a clash with reigning premiers Melbourne City in the Australia Cup final four.

Fellow off-season signing and emerging Olyroos defender Jordan Courtney-Perkins will also push for his first minutes at the club having signed from Polish side Raków Częstochowa, with Corica hinting all of the new faces in his squad would receive minutes in the semi-final.

“They’re all fit and raring to go,” he said. “I think at some stage you’ll see all of them… I don’t want to give too much away, but I’m pretty sure they’ll all be involved at some stage on the weekend.”

“We’ve got everyone available,” he added. “We’ve got a full squad available for the cup game. And I’m excited to see the new boys come in, and blend nicely with the team. But also, I think the way we’ve been playing at the moment is really exciting for the fans to get out and watch this coming season.”

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Both Gomes and Lacerda have arrived in Sydney on loan deals from Brazilian clubs; Gomes is a 26-year-old forward who will look to fill the void left by Adam Le Fondre up top for the Sky Blues. Lacerda – on loan from Ceará SC – is a central defender who Corica will hope can forge a dominant partnership with Jack Rodwell at the heart of defence.

Gomes will compete with in-form youngster Patrick Wood for minutes up top for Sydney FC; Wood has three goals in the Australia Cup campaign to date.

The Sydney squad has experienced an off-season transformation after a semi-final exit in the 2022-23 campaign with the likes of Le Fondre, Alex Wilkinson, Paulo Retre, Diego Caballo and Adrian Segecic all departing the club on either permanent or loan moves.

Their Australia Cup opponents have undergone a similar overhaul; Corica watched on as City drew 0-0 with Ventforet Kofu in the Asian Champions League in midweek, and believes that although the reigning A-League Men premiers may take time to gel, their status as one of the benchmark sides in Australia cannot be disputed.

“We know they’re a good team,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of new faces as well in their squad, so it might take them a little bit of time to gel together, but it’s going to be good to see how they are going, and put us against the best – because they are the premiers still and a very good side. It’s going to be a great game.”

City’s new captain Jamie Maclaren spoke in the aftermath of the 0-0 ACL draw, and relished the quick turnaround from Wednesday night’s clash with Kofu to Sunday afternoon’s cup tie against Sydney.

“It’s what pre-season is about, getting these competitive games in and what better way to start than with AFC Asian Champions League and now an Australian Cup Semi Final,” Maclaren said.

We want to win silverware this year and it starts with the Cup. We’re in the hat with the Semi Finals and we want to go one better than we have been, and that’s to get to another Final and go again.

“The boys are happy, but we know we can do better, so back to the training pitch, to the game on Sunday and then playing away from home in the ACL.”

How to watch?

All Australia Cup matches will be streamed live and free on 10Play.

Semi-final fixtures

Melbourne City v Sydney FC
Sunday, September 24
Venue: AAMI Park
Kick-off: 3pm AEST
Broadcast: Live on 10 Play

Melbourne Knights v Brisbane Roar
Sunday, September 24
Venue: Knights Stadium
Kick-off: 6pm AEST
Broadcast: Live on 10 Play

Australia Cup Final date and venue

The Australia Cup 2023 Final will be on Saturday October 7. Football Australia will determine the host venue once the finalists are known.