A-League royalty ... Joel Griffiths, Lucas Neill and Brett Emerton. Photo: Getty Images
SYDNEY FC currently boast a galaxy of stars but Joel Griffiths has warned his teammates must get their act together or missing the finals might be all they get remembered for.
Griffiths was on the scoresheet for the third time in three matches but his effort was the only bright spot in the Sky Blues' 3-1 defeat against Melbourne Heart, a result that saw Sydney slip out of the top six.
Though Frank Farina's side are widely expected to make it - with plenty tipping them as a dark horse should they make the finals - Griffiths says that's fanciful talk if the team doesn't play as a unit.
''It's hard to take when you know we can play well but we just don't put it together,'' Griffiths said. ''We look good on paper but people are expecting others to do it for them at a time when we need to be playing as team.
''A few of our players weren't on song, which doesn't help, but you can't really point the finger at anyone - it's a team sport and we've got to make sure nobody is left behind. On that showing, I think we've got a lot of work still to do.
''You've just got to hope we can get these performances out of our system so we can move on. But I tell you what, if we do that in Perth, we'll get punished again.''
The Sky Blues go to Perth on Saturday night knowing defeat would not only put them further out of touch with the top six but re-introduce the Glory as a top-six contender.
To avoid that fate, Griffiths has a simple remedy. If his teammates can get him the ball, he's got no doubts what he can do.
''I just feel like I should be getting more chances in front of goal. I think if they had given me more chances, especially in the first half [against Heart], it's a different ball game,'' he said. ''That's just the way I am. I'm a striker and I score goals. Give me the ball, and I'll score the goal. I have to be like that. We're struggling to be creative enough at the moment and that's something that's probably affecting the whole team as well. We've got plenty of runners but it can't only be [Alessandro] Del Piero who is creating opportunities.''
Lucas Neill chose a tough week to make his Sydney debut but Griffiths said the Socceroos captain did well enough to justify his inclusion in the starting side.
''For Lucas to come in after one week of training, I think he did really well,'' he said.
Griffiths doesn't excuse himself from criticism, however. Abusive comments made to an assistant referee in his previous venture to Melbourne - a 3-1 loss against the Victory - put him on the sidelines for three weeks.
''You always want to play, score goals and win games but [the ban] was rightly justified,'' he said. ''What I did deserved punishment, even though it took a while for them to make a decision on it. But it was the right decision. It was a bad example that I set. I'm the first one to admit my mistake.''
■ Sydney FC defender Sebastian Ryall has been suspended for one A-League game after being sent off for dragging down David Williams in the penalty box during his side's 3-1 loss to Melbourne Heart on Sunday.