SYDNEY: Premier Plate winners Sydney FC remain confident they can win their fifth A-League title as the regular season looks ahead to its final match before the playoffs begin next weekend.
Sydney were beaten 2-1 by Western United FC on Saturday to end their regular season, having only picked up five points out of a possible 18 in the six games they played since the A-League resumed last month after a COVID-19 shutdown in March.
They have not won any of their last five games, but had built up enough of a buffer before the shutdown to ensure they sealed their fourth Premiers Plate three weeks ago as the top-placed side in the regular season.
"I still believe this side will win the Grand Final," Sydney coach Steve Corica told reporters. "They are Premiers for a reason ... but we've set our sights on two trophies."
Sydney have qualified automatically for the semi-finals, which will be played on Aug. 26, and captain Alex Wilkinson acknowledged they would need to tighten up in the next 10 days.
"Defensively we have to stop leaking soft goals. We have to be better there because defence wins championships," he told Fox Sports. "Going forward we need to be more clinical.
"It's not all doom and gloom. We just have to be better for longer periods (and) we have got really experienced guys in the dressing room who have played in big games before.
"We have to stand up and deliver."
Western United, in fifth place, will face second-place Melbourne City on Wednesday in the last match of the regular season.
The top six sides have already been confirmed for the playoffs, with the Wellington Phoenix in third, Brisbane Roar in fourth while the Perth Glory are sixth.
Western United could finish third if they beat Melbourne.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by William Mallard)