SYDNEY FC have been dealt a blow on the eve of their clash with the Newcastle Jets, with star striker Joel Griffiths slapped with a three-match ban by the Match Review Panel for making an offensive comment to a linesman.
Griffiths will miss the match against his former club after making an offensive comment in the 89th minute of last week's 3-1 loss to Melbourne Victory.
"Sydney FC is disappointed with what happened late in the game last weekend against Melbourne Victory that has led to Joel Griffiths receiving a three-match suspension," Sydney boss Tony Pignata said. "Sydney FC prides itself on setting standards in community behaviour and we expect our players to uphold those standards and set a good example.''
Neither the referee nor the linesman reported the incident to the FFA, with the review panel decided to address the incident until Thursday night.
Sydney FC will appeal the severity of ban - the base penalty for such an infringement is just one week. The two additional weeks were added at the discretion of the review panel.
"Joel has shown remorse for what happened and Sydney FC will consider its options in relation to appealing the severity of the suspension. Sydney FC will be making no further comment on the issue until a decision has been made regarding any possible appeal, which must be actioned by 12pm on Monday," Pignata said.
This is the second time that Griffiths has been in trouble for an altercation involving an official. The striker slapped linesman Alex Glasgow in the groin in 2007 but could not face a suspension as the referee immediately showed him a yellow card.
Griffiths is the sixth change forced on Sydney coach Frank Farina for the match against the fifth-placed Jets, who sit two points above the Sky Blues on the A-League ladder.
Socceroo Brett Emerton (back) has been ruled out of the match with the Jets, against whom Sydney have lost twice already this season. The Sky Blues are also without Yairo Yau to international duty with Panama, while defenders Fabio and Tiago Calvano are serving one-match suspensions.
Goalkeeper Ivan Necevski returns from an ankle injury to take Matthew Nash's place on the bench while Terry Antonis, Peter Triantis, Nathan Sherlock, Paul Reid and Aaron Calver have been recalled to Farina's extended 18-man squad.
Farina bemoaned his continued bad luck at training on Friday before the news of Griffiths suspension.
''It's certainly had its moments [this season]. We are probably five or six down from last week but that is the reality of it - we have to live with it and just get on with it. Every day in football is a challenge,'' Farina said.
''When you are on a bit of a rollercoaster ride like we have been, it tends to stay that way. We have to continue to keep working hard, take what we have got and keep battling away.''
For Antonis, Saturday's match marks another opportunity in a career that has happened in reverse.
Instead of relying on club form to force his way into national teams, the youngster stands in the rare position of having played more games for Australia at all levels than he has in the A-League.
He began the season as Sydney's first-choice central midfielder but has made only three starts since returning from international duty in early December. While he is proud of earning his first senior cap at a young age, he laments the disruption it has caused to his club career.
Antonis played a full game for the Socceroos against Guam in the qualifying tournament but was otherwise used sparingly as a late substitute. ''I've been coming back and forwards with the national team and not getting the regular game time; it lets you down a bit,'' Antonis said. ''It's always an honour to represent your country like going away with the Australian teams and playing for your city as well, for Sydney. I love doing it, and that's what it is to be a professional footballer.''
The story Griffiths ban stuns Sydney on eve of Jets showdown first appeared on Brisbane Times.