JORDI Swibel has one thing on his mind on the eve of his second consecutive Y-League season for Sydney FC – to utilise what he has learnt this year while training with the powerhouse club’s premiership-winning A-League squad.
An untimely six-week absence from the game from mid-April due to a hamstring tear – when Swibel was part of Sydney FC’s 29-member squad for its 2019 Asian Champions League campaign – is now just a distant memory for the talented 20-year-old striker.
A solid finish to the 2019 NPL1 NSW men’s season, in which he scored seven goals in 14 games for the Sky Blues, saw him rewarded by being one of only four teammates to join head coach Steve Corica’s top squad at the commencement of A-League pre-season training from July 4.
By the end of that month he had participated in a week-long training camp in Cairns and got some unforgettable game time in the second half of Sydney FC’s friendly match played in China against French giants Paris Saint Germain.
To top it off, in the last month Swibel was named on an extended bench for three out of four of Sydney FC’s games so far in the 2019/20 A-League season, but was not used.
“I didn’t get on the field, but it was a great experience to have been selected,” Swibel told The AJN.
“All the guys in the A-League squad have been so welcoming and willing to give of their time and offer advice, and it’s a privilege to be in a position to be able to learn as much as possible from them, to utilise in my own game.
“There are so many players in that squad – like Milos Ninkovic – who have represented their countries or have won titles in overseas leagues, and getting to do drills with them and ask them questions has helped me a lot.
“It 100 per cent makes you want to improve every day as a player.”
Swibel played in five games in his debut Y-League season, and will be hoping to earn plenty more starts in the nation’s premier U23 men’s competition, starting in round one this Saturday afternoon at Sydney’s Leichhardt Oval against the Newcastle Jets.
The Y-League has a short, sharp 10-round format where every match result counts for the 10 teams, grouped into two conferences, with only the winner of each conference able to advance to the grand final.
Sydney FC missed out by just one competition point on topping their conference last season, pipped at the post by arch-rivals the Western Sydney Wanderers.
But Swibel said the team – strengthened by the inclusion of four Australian Joeys players – will use the disappointment felt from that result as motivation.
“All we can do is learn and improve from that as a team. Our squad is very good, and our aim is to win.”
This Y-League season includes a split round in early January to allow for Y-League players to be used by their clubs in A-League matches, if required, during the Asian Football Confederation U23 Championships.
“I think every player in the Y-League, when they train and play in games, wants to do their best to push for a spot in the A-League, and I think that [split round] just gives you that extra bit of incentive to try to catch the eye of selectors,” Swibel said.
The young Sky Blues’ new coach, Jimmy van Weeren, said he is excited about guiding “a really talented playing group this season who can challenge for the title, as is expected at Sydney FC”.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the players take another step on their path to becoming professional footballers.”