John van ‘t Schip says his under-manned side’s gritty Hyundai A-League draw with Sydney FC shows Melbourne City will be a strong force this season.
City were without Aaron Hughes (international duty), Harry Novillo, Ivan Franjic, David Williams and Corey Gameiro (all injured) while Socceroo Aaron Mooy was only a substitute after arriving back from Jordan on Saturday morning.
But they still battled bravely to fight out a 1-1 draw in front of more than 17,000 fans at Allianz Stadium.
Wade Dekker highlighted an impressive showing by a number of City youngsters and scored his first A-League goal with a neat finish.
“It’s going to make us as a group stronger. Because of the players that are not there yet, some players got a chance and they took it,” a content van ‘t Schip said.
“Wade Dekker scored the goal, got one in the FFA Cup as well. It’s important.
“Hernan Espindola, Stefan Zinni and from our of our youth system too…they are all positive signs.
“You have take into consideration we had three youth players tonight who were making their A-League debut. They did a good job and it was a deserved point.”
After taking the lead on 16 minutes, it was only a goal to Sydney FC in first-half stoppage time which soured a strong opening stanza from the visitors.
Van ‘t Schip felt that goal swung the momentum of the game back towards the Sky Blues, although he felt City should have had a penalty before that when Robi Koren was brought down by Vedran Janjetovic in the box.
But after the break Sydney dominated and it was only a couple of top-quality saves by ex-Danish international Thomas Sorensen which ensured City would take home a point.
“He hasn’t played for a long time and this was really his first important game in a long time,” van ‘t Schip said of Sorensen.
“He did very well because in the last six weeks that he’s with us he came from a situation where he hasn’t had a lot of goal-keeper training.
“But he picked it up really quick and I think he had a great game, had a few important saves and was helping the team a lot.”
Asked about the decision to use Mooy off the bench, despite playing 90 minutes for the Socceroos in Amman just 41 hours earlier, the City boss said: “We know Aaron is important but we also know it’s a risk putting him in the game.
“With his presence on the bench and knowing, only if we needed him, we’d put him in, it’s still a risk but he felt good and we said if we really need you it’s going to be 30 minutes.
“We needed him and that’s why he played.”