Sydney FC’s 2-1 A-League elimination final win over the Western Sydney Wanderers has been overshadowed by an ugly scene in the change rooms post-match.
Former Sydney star turned Wanderers forward Milos Ninkovic went into the Sky Blues’ rooms after the match and was seen shaking hands and congratulating his former teammates.
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However, the mood shifted when he was forcibly removed from the dressing rooms.
Ninkovic joined the Wanderers this season after seven years and three A-League championships with the Sky Blues.
In his press conference, Corica confirmed he had been removed and that the bad blood ran deep between the two parties.
“He just come to wish the players all the best (and) have a good season. So that‘s what he come in for,” Corica said.
Asked about his ejection from the Sydney change rooms, Corica said: “Well, he‘s just upset, obviously, losing the game.”
“We have issues with him, obviously, but that‘s all. That’s between me and him.”
At the time, Wanderers coach Mark Rudan said he had not spoken with Ninkovic after the incident.
“I think it all started when their coach said something on the sidelines not very nice to Milos,” Rudan said. “I think that’s where it started.
“From my understanding … Milos went in there to congratulate his old teammates and their coach didn’t appreciate him being in there.
“Something occurred between those two which wasn’t pleasant, which was quite fiery.
“I haven’t seen Milos yet so I haven’t spoken to him yet, but it’s football, these things kind of happen.”
But the incident has left a bad taste in plenty of peoples’ mouths but the blame was shared around.
Fans questioned why Ninkovic was even in the rooms except to antagonise Corica, where there was clearly bad blood, others said it was an over-reaction from the Sydney FC coach when none of the players appeared to have a problem with their former teammate wishing them well.
Aussie football commentary legend Simon Hill tweeted: “Extraordinary … and whomever is to blame, so sad it’s ended like this.”
Former football reporter Ray Gatt wrote: “This is sad on all levels, a real bad look. There are no winners. I think everyone involved needs to grow up.”
Mark Gottlieb commented: “Didn’t look like any of the Sydney FC players had a problem with Ninkovic being there … until …”
Sports broadcaster Daniel Garb posted: “A player being escorted out of an opposition dressing room might be an @aleaguemen first. Amazing footage and drama. The rivalry keeps giving.”
Ninkovic won three A-League championships and premierships plus an FFA Cup in his seven seasons with the Sky Blues, with the Serbian international scoring 41 times in 221 appearances before his shock swap to the other side of the Sydney divide.
That ugly exit was marked by an ugly series of claims and counterclaims around the failed negotiations for a one-year contract extension offer from Sydney.
The 38-year-old has claimed that Sydney’s offer was contingent on the Serbian gaining his Australian citizenship before the season started (Ninkovic passed his citizenship test well before that deadline, but was only officially made an Australian citizen on Australia Day this year).
Sydney FC’s own allegation is that Ninkovic told Corica he could play just “20 or 30” minutes off the bench each week – something the player has firmly denied.
“He’s the enemy now,” Corica said back in November. “We have to treat him that way. It’s going to be hostile for Ninko. The fans loved him.”
With Zac Rayson, NCA Newswire