ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO mania came to Gosford. Unfortunately, the man himself did not.
Sydney FC tweeted their official team sheet at 6.37pm, by which time it was too late to make a U-turn and head back down the F3. It was a very long drive home for those that made the trip. It always is when your side concedes seven goals. Never, in the history of the Sky Blues have they been so exposed. And only one team – the now-defunct North Queensland Fury – has let in more.
There was a strong chance when the Juventus great wasn’t sighted on the training field at Macquarie University that the 15,686 at Bluetongue Stadium would be disappointed. Nor was he in the stands, with the team’s medical staff deciding a road trip was unlikely to ease the tension in his hamstrings. But there would have been few complaints from the Mariners faithful. The marquee man wasn’t there but it was an historic occasion nevertheless. Holger Osieck, spotted watching from the stands, would have struggled to make sense of it.
When Daniel McBreen scored his third – the home side’s seventh – Central Coast coach Graham Arnold started flapping his arms to pump up the crowd. They needed no encouragement. Not so long ago Arnold knocked back overtures to take over at Sydney. The decision to stay put has been vindicated.
Before the Del Piero news became official, the visitors were considered a $3.75 chance. When he was scratched, you could help yourself to $4.50.
Del Piero’s absence was the latest blow to an outfit which has already had more line-up changes than INXS. While the loss of the $2 million man – the one who had taken more shots, scored more goals and won more balls than any other Sydney player this year – was sorely missed, there is no excuse for what his team dished up.
An Italian international was replaced by a Panamanian one. The A-League has truly become the world game. And it was some start. Yairo Yau needed only eight minutes to make his mark for the Sky Blues. A Mariners turnover – both sides, particularly Sydney, made many costly ones – gave the 23-year-old his first goal. His chip over keeper Mathew Ryan was the sort of deft touch that Del Piero would have been proud of.
Had he kept his head in the 27th minute, Yau could have added to the tally. Instead he blasted over the woodwork while within range. Later, he set up Ali Abbas with a chipped pass which was brilliantly volleyed over the keeper. It was a rare happy moment for the Sky Blues.
News of Del Piero’s withdrawal may have prompted some viewers back in Turin – the Sky Blues are beamed back to his homeland – to flick over to an Italian soap instead. If they craved drama, they should have stayed tuned. A porous Sydney defence, coupled with some spectacular finishing, ensured Ivan Necevski was often called upon. Some of the Sydney goalkeeper’s pain was self-inflicted, like the time he failed to cleanly gather a John Hutchinson shot with the result a Sebastian Ryall own goal. This was not the sort of night where they could afford to be charitable.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.