AAP Soccer

A-League clubs to miss stars: Corica

By AAP Newswire

Sydney FC coach Steve Corica expects several of the A-League leaders' rivals to be hit hard by the loss of overseas stars when the competition resumes.

The Sky Blues play third-placed Wellington Phoenix on Friday night at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in a match that could settle the Premiers Plate race.

A home win would almost certainly guarantee Sydney a record fourth Plate - with five matches still to play for Corica's men.

Second-placed Melbourne City would not be able to haul in the Sky Blues while Phoenix would have to win all of their remaining game just to match Sydney's points total.

While Sydney have retained all of their star foreigners during the hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, other clubs have not been so lucky.

Among the players to have departed are Swedish international Ola Toivonen (Melbourne Victory), Greek international Panagiotis Kone (Western United) and Swiss goalkeeper Daniel Lopar (Western Sydney Wanderers).

Victory have also lost Tim Hoogland while cross-town rivals City will have to do without Markel Susaeta.

Perth defenders Gregory Wuthrich (Switzerland) and Kim Soo-Beom (South Korea) have returned home while captain Diego Castro has made himself unavailable for the rest of the season.

"I think it would affect a lot of the teams because they are quality players," Corica said.

"We are lucky enough to get everyone back and Wellington are similar as well, so two very good teams playing on Friday night.

"I'm pretty sure that the (overall league) standard will be just as good.

"It gives other people opportunities to show what they've got and there might be younger players coming through given the opportunity who could be the next star."

All but one of the remaining 27 regular-season matches are scheduled in NSW.

That has resulted in Phoenix being relocated from New Zealand and interstate clubs will also be based in NSW.

"It's massive and it shows the care everyone has for the game here," Sydney's New Zealand International forward Kosta Barbarouses said.

"We (Sydney) have still got it good, we are at home with our families, these guys have had to uproot and do it hard.

"We are massively grateful for all the teams outside of NSW for what they have done."

VAR has been scrapped for at least the remainder of the home-and-away campaign while three clubs - Adelaide United, Victory and Brisbane Roar - will all return with new coaches at the helm after the previous incumbents at each club departed during the competition's enforced break.

STATS THAT MATTER

* Wellington will be looking to equal their club record of five successive A-League wins set in 2010

* Sydney have drawn their past two games and haven't had three in a row since since January 2008

* Sydney have lost just one of their past 11 A-League clashes with the Phoenix.

Stats: Opta