Sydney FC marquee man Alessandro Del Piero made a positive impact on his return to the Sky Blues outfit as Sydney FC fell 2-1 to J-League side Sagan Tosu in an entertaining friendly in Japan tonight.
Del Piero played 77 minutes in the centre of a three man attack and his influence was immediate as the Sky Blues continue its reinvention under Frank Farina and Rado Vidosic leading into the start of the 2013/14 Hyundai A-League.
Sydney FC newcomers Pedj Bojic, Marc Warren and Corey Gameiro started the match, as did Nick Carle and Matt Jurman, both returning to the club after an absence, but it was the appearance of Del Piero that thrilled the crowd of 21,000 in Tosu as he played a part in Sydney FC’s only goal of the game, a 24th minute strike by Rhyan Grant.
Sydney FC assistant coach Rado Vidosic put out an attacking team with the Sky Blues sticking true to its commitment to play a fast tempo style of football in a 4-3-3 formation. The back four of Warren, Sebastian Ryall, Jurman and Bojic sat in front of ‘keeper Vedran Janjetovic, Carle continued at the base of the midfield trio that also included Brett Emerton and Grant while Del Piero took up a position at the point of the attack with width from Joel Chianese and Corey Gameiro.
Sydney FC got away to the worst possible start when Sagan Tosu midfielder Mizunuma opened the scoring within the first minute of play but the Sky Blues gained a foothold in the match soon after as they looked to keep possession at every opportunity.
Both sides had chances in what was an entertaining start to the match but it was Sydney FC who next troubled the scorer when Grant equalised in the 24th minute after earlier interplay between Emerton, Grant and Del Piero teed up the midfielder with a sight on goal from 20m, which he buried to level the scores at 1-1.
Sydney FC continued to hold the initiative after equalizing with Gameiro, Chianese and Emerton all coming close to putting the Sky Blues ahead during the first half before a late sucker punch saw Sagan Tosu retake the lead just before the break. Mizunuma was again on target, this time rising high at the far post to head home a pin point cross by Kiyotake in the 41st minute and the home side went to half time with a 2-1 lead.
Sydney FC made one change at half time, switching the goalkeepers as Janjetovic made way for Ivan Necevski.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first 45 minutes with both sides carving openings but Sydney FC had a goal disallowed in the 58th minute when Chianese was judged to be offside after slotting home from the edge of the six-yard box after Bojic pounced on a parried Gameiro shot.
The Sky Blues’ momentum stalled when Vidosic made wholesale changes midway through the second half with A-League All Stars Bedj Bojic and Brett Emerton replaced after 65 and 67 minutes respectively by Peter Triantis and Ali Abbas while Mitch Mallia came on for Del Piero on 73 minutes and Tiago Calvano rounded out the substitutions, entering the game for Sebastian Ryall in the 77th minute.
The Sydney FC squad returns to Sydney on Friday morning ahead of a Community pre season friendly with Macarthur Rams next Wednesday (31 July) at Campbelltown Stadium before embarking on a three-week camp in Italy on August 2.
Sagan Tosu 2 (Mizunuma ‘1, ‘41) d Sydney FC 1 (Rhyan Grant ‘24)
Best Amenity Stadium
Crowd: About 21,000
Sydney FC team: Vedran JANJETOVIC (Ivan NECEVSKI ‘46), Pedj BOJIC (Peter TRIANTIS ‘65), Sebastian RYALL (Tiago CALVANO ‘77), Matt JURMAN, Marc WARREN, Brett EMERTON (Ali ABBAS ‘67), Nick CARLE, Rhyan GRANT, Alessandro DEL PIERO (Mitch MALLIA ‘73), Joel CHIANESE, Corey GAMEIRO.
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