Sky Blues star Luke Brattan has promised to make Saturday night’s Sydney derby a misery for his former teammate Milos Ninkovic.
A-League legend Ninkovic sent shockwaves through Australian football in the off-season when after seven years with Sydney FC he defected to Western Sydney Wanderers.
It was anything but an amicable split between the two-time Johnny Warren medallist and the Sky Blues, with a tense atmosphere obvious at Thursday’s pre-derby press conference involving Ninkovic, Brattan, Sydney FC coach Steve Corica and his Wanderers counterpart Marko Rudan.
While having “respect” for Ninkovic, both Corica and Brattan said the 37-year-old former Sydney FC playmaker was now the “enemy” and as a result, would be targeted at Allianz Stadium on Saturday.
“You want to play with the best players, and he is one of the best to ever play in the league … (but) he is now the enemy and I am going to do everything I can to not let him do what he does,’’ Brattan said.
“That’s part of football. You can’t just leave to the rival team and nothing is going to be said. It’s part of the job.”
Corica warned Ninkovic to also expect grief from Sydney FC that will make up a large portion of a crowd expected to top 30,000.
“The whole situation builds to the hostile atmosphere, and I know that it’s going to be hostile toward ‘Ninko’,” Corica said.
“It’s a derby, the fans are passionate about the club and we want to put on a performance for them.”
Ninkovic, who won three A-League championships and an FFA Cup with the Sky Blues, said he had “nothing to prove” on Saturday night.
“My legacy is always going to be here (at Sydney FC), the trophies I won, the trophies we won,” he said.
“I still think that I deserve maybe a little bit more respect. Fans – they’re going to react how they react.
“I am now a Western Sydney Wanderers player and I am going to give everything I can to win the game for them.”
While Ninkovic will line up against his former club, ex-Wanderers star Jack Rodwell, who moved the other way in the off-season, won’t play due to an ongoing groin injury that continues to delay his first A-League appearance for the Sky Blues.
“He was really looking forward to this game and hoping it as going to be his first game for the club, but he’s just fallen a little bit short,” Corica said of Rodwell.
However, Sydney’s squad includes English striker Adam Le Fondre, who is poised to make his return from a hamstring injury.