SYDNEY (AP) Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata, who was instrumental in bringing Italy star Alessandro Del Piero to Australian football’s A-League, is stepping down after five years.
In a statement on Wednesday, the newly-crowned A-League champions said Pignata will leave his post early next month to return to his home town of Melbourne.
Pignata joined Sydney in 2012 and was credited with putting together the deal which brought Del Piero to Australia as the A-League’s highest-profile international signing. He flew to Italy shortly after joining Sydney FC to persuade Del Piero to sign on for what became a highly-successful two-year stay in the A-League.
Del Piero won the World Cup with Italy in 2006 and scored 27 goals in 91 appearances for his national team.
SYDNEY (AP) Sydney FC playmaker Milos Ninkovic has won the Australian A-League’s player of the season award.
The 32-year-old ex-Serbia international tallied 44 points to hold off Perth Glory’s Diego Castro by seven and Western Sydney’s Nico Martinez by 15.
Ninkovic scored nine goals and had 11 assists in his second A-League season, helping Sydney FC to advance to this weekend’s grand final against Melbourne Victory.
In other awards announced Monday, Sydney FC manager Graham Arnold took the top honors among the coaches, while Victory striker Besart Berisha shared the golden boot (19 goals) with Brisbane Roar’s Jamie Maclaren, who was also voted the younger player of the season.
Socceroos veteran Tim Cahill won the goal of the year award for his 35-meter strike in the second round for Melbourne City.
Samantha Kerr won the women’s player of the year and the women’s goal of the year awards.
SYDNEY (AP) Sydney FC will face the Melbourne Victory in next weekend’s grand final of Australian football’s A-League after the top-ranked teams won contrasting semifinals.
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While Sydney was as dominant as it has been throughout a 27-match regular season in its 3-0 win over Perth on Saturday, Melbourne needed a 70th-minute goal from striker Besart Berisha to advance with a 1-0 win Sunday over Brisbane.
Josh Brillante, Jordy Buijs and Filip Holosko scored first-half goals as Sydney continued a seemingly unstoppable drive towards its third A-League title – and its first since 2010. The video referee interceded in two of the goals, making the win contentious, but Sydney still demonstrated superiority over the young, confident and ambitious Perth side.
Sydney lost only once in 27 regular-season matches and will enter the final as a considerable favorite.
Berisha sank the hopes of his former club, Brisbane, with his late strike in Sunday’s second semifinal. While the margin was small, the Victory deserved to win after playing more assertively throughout the match.
Its semifinal victory means that the teams that finished first and second at the end of the regular season will contest the final for the fifth straight year. The final repeats the 2015 showdown between Sydney and Melbourne, which the Victory won 3-0.
Sadio Mane needed surgery as expected and will miss two months as a result of an incident with Leighton Baines in the Merseyside Derby.
Mane, 24, won’t play again this season, also missing out on an extra match the Reds announced on Monday: one on May 24 against Sydney FC in Australia.
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The club points out that the match will be the closest to Liverpool’s 125th anniversary, and that the Reds enjoy health support Down Under. From LiverpoolFC.com:
Liverpool have more than 2.3million followers in Australia and the strength of their support has never been more evident than during the club’s previous visits: the incredible moment in Melbourne in 2013 when 95,000 fans sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, or in Brisbane and Adelaide when fans came out in their thousands to show their support.
Sydney FC is led by former Australia national team coach Graham Arnold.
SYDNEY (AP) After clinching first place in Australia’s A-League without taking the field, Sydney FC enhanced its record achievement with a 3-0 win over the Perth Glory on Sunday.
Sydney FC won the Premiers Plate as regular-season champions after the second-place Melbourne Victory lost 1-0 to Brisbane on Saturday, when Sydney had a night off.
The Brisbane win left Sydney with an unassailable 11-point lead in first place with three rounds to play.
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The Sydney side also created some history: it became the only team to have remained in outright first position in the standings for an entire season.
In the other match Sunday, the Wellington Phoenix beat Newcastle 5-0 to remain within five points of sixth-place Western Sydney for the final playoff spot.