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Comeback king Ibini itching for AL return

NZN 20/10/2016 Emma Kemp

Powered by his sterling FFA Cup semi-final comeback, reinvigorated Sydney FC winger Bernie Ibini is itching to take his game back to the A-League.

Ibini played his first competitive minutes in nearly 18 months on Wednesday night, blazing off the bench to score the Sky Blues' third goal against Canberra Olympic and seal their first final berth.

It was a moment that will live long in the memory of the 24-year-old, who thought he may never have played again had he not returned to Australia for medical treatment following a horrible leg injury in Belgium.

Ibini's blistering pace in rushing onto Matt Simon's cross betrayed no signs of the broken fibula and torn ligaments that still affected his ankle in July when he re-joined Sydney on loan from Club Brugge.

"I'm over the moon," Ibini told AAP.

"I couldn't have dreamed for a much better comeback ... but there's room for improvement.

"The fitness will come with playing games so I'm definitely hoping for more minutes."

Ibini has been named in coach Graham Arnold's squad to face Wellington on Sunday and could well find himself clocking his first A-League minutes since the Sky Blues' 2014-15 grand-final loss.

From there, the challenge will be pushing his way back into a starting line-up stacked with attacking talent and already featuring in-form right winger Filip Holosko.

However, that thought barely fazes Ibini compared to the injury woes and family tragedy he's already overcome.

During the most difficult times, as he endured gruelling rehab in a foreign country so far away from family and friends, the Nigerian-born attacker found resilience thinking of his late father, who died unexpectedly in 2013.

"Losing my father a couple of years back has made me a strong person, and I think that has helped with everything," Ibini said.

"I always keep his memory close to me especially when I'm going through hard times.

"I want to do well for my family and friends because I know how much they support me through my football."

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