‘Wasn’t pleasant’: Ugly aftermath to fiery derby as star confronts ex-coach

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Saturday night‘s fiery Sydney derby boiled over after the final whistle in a heated dressing room confrontation between Sydney FC coach Steve Corica and Western Sydney Wanderers star Milos Ninkovic.

Ninkovic, who joined the Wanderers this season after seven years and three A-League championships with the Sky Blues, was marched out of the Sydney change room following their 2-1 Elimination Final win over his Wanderers.

Wanderers coach Mark Rudan said he had not spoken with Ninkovic after the incident but told reporters: “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.”

Wanderers coach, Mark Rudan (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Rudan added: “I think it all started in the game where I think their coach said something not very nice on the sideline to Milos. I think that’s where it started. But that’s football, these things kind of happen.”

Sydney coach Corica said in his post-match press conference: “He just come to wish the players all the best (and) have a good season. So that‘s what he come in for.”

One reporter pointed out that Ninkovic appeared to be escorted out of the dressing room, with Corica remarking: “Well, he‘s just upset, obviously, losing the game.”

“Listen, he come to wish the players all the best for the remainder of the season. You know, we have issues with him, obviously, but that‘s all. That’s between me and him.”

Milos Ninkovic of the Wanderers and Luke Brattan of Sydney FC (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

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.”

There was certainly no love lost on the field, with Ninkovic constantly hassled and harried by his ex-teammates throughout the game, and the midfielder largely kept quiet by Luke Brattan.

Ninkovic was substituted midway through the second half after picking up a yellow card, with the Wanderers collapsing to a 2-1 defeat after leading through a penalty late in the first half.

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