Moments after he was unveiled as Sydney FC's new head coach, Steve Corica declared his first priority as Graham Arnold's replacement would be to secure the marquee signatures of star pair Bobo and Milos Ninkovic.
The 45-year-old has signed a two-year deal to succeed Socceroos-coach-in-waiting Arnold, with the club settling on Corica despite 150 applications from around the world and a further 100 expressions of interest in the job.
In the end it came down to a shortlist of four, and Sydney FC's former captain, youth coach and assistant coach was chosen in favour of three overseas candidates. He walks into one of the A-League's most high pressure gigs, and will initially preside over a playing roster that still needs assembling ahead of next season.
Bobo and Ninkovic are yet to re-sign for next season and beyond, but Corica is confident those two players will be locked down sooner rather than later.
"I've got a very good relationship with both of them, they've been very good for the team in the last couple of years," Corica said. "I really want them to stay so I'm looking forward to talking to them and trying to get their signatures. I'm pretty sure those signatures will come in the next week or so."
Corica said locking down Bobo and Ninkovic was a far larger priority than going after ex-Barcelona champion Andres Iniesta who was linked with the A-League last week, but who now looks likely to sign with either a Chinese or Japanese club.
Alex Brosque, David Carney, Fabio Ferreira and Anthony Kalik all remain un-signed for next season while Jordy Buijs and ex-Socceroo Luke Wilkshire have already departed the club.
Once his squad is finalised, Corica plans to put his own stamp on Sydney FC but is determined to carry on from where Arnold left off. The club won the Premier's Plate and the championship in 2017, while Ninkovic and Bobo both scored to hand Sydney FC the FFA Cup last November.
Arnold's side won the Premier's Plate again this season, but were knocked out of the finals by eventual champions Melbourne Victory.
"We don't want to change too much, we've had great success in the last two years, I want to keep the foundation with the players much the same," Corica said. "There'll be new faces coming in without a doubt which will help the group as well. We want to make this club better, we want to win trophies.
"We'll do things my way now, we want to keep things going in the same direction but under my charge. We missed out this year in the grand final so that's motivation that we want to win everything next year. There's players still at a young age that will get better. The older boys need to focus for a new season and to motivate these young boys and to have motivation for themselves to win trophies."
Corica has been a part of Sydney FC since the club was founded in 2005. He scored the winning goal in the first A-League grand final, and later went on to captain the club before retiring in 2010 to join the coaching staff. The former Socceroos midfielder is a firm believer in the beautiful game and plans to employ an exciting style under his stewardship.
"As a player I wanted to be that, entertaining, make the fans feel happy about coming to the game, watching good football, so that won't change," Corica said. "You've seen that with Arnie and I'll continue that on. Winning is very important."
A relationship banned under traditional law.
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