Alessandro Del Piero announced himself to the Hyundai A-Leage with a solid performance for a very poor Sydney FC in Wellington last night. With all the focus on the marquee signing before the match, it was Wellington’s own import, former Belgium international Stein Huysegem, who stamped his authority with the first goal in the 43rd minute after two near misses. A second goal, a screaming header sure to find a home in plenty of highlight reels, to 19 yearold striker Louis Fenton secured victory for the dominant home side.
It was clear from the outset that Del Piero was in another league to his team-mates. His touches were classy and he provided plenty of opportunities up front but Sydney were unable to capitalised. It was a sobering lesson for the big spending Sydney FC. One man does not make a team as illustrated by the Phoenix who showed importance of team cohesion as they outplayed the scrappy Sydney FC outfit from the opening whistle. Fire power up front has been a problem Wellington in previous seasons but the arrival of Huysegem, to much less fanfair as Del Piero, Emile Heskey, and Shinji Ono, has added another dimension in attack as the look set for a big year.
The Western Sydney Wanders were impressive in their debut into the competition as they slugged out a 0-0 draw with the Central Coast Mariners. Both had their chances but is was the Wanderers who had control for the better part of the match. Ono came into the game at in the 60th minute and made an immediate impact with some clever touches and quality shot from outside of the box.
With so much hype surrounding the big three signings, expectations are high. Del Piero gets a definite pass mark- if only the same could be said about his teamates, while Ono showed plenty of promise with very limited prep time. Our attention turns to Heskey this afternoon when Newcastle Jets take on Adelaide United at home. With the first batch at Heskey jerseys sold out already, there’ll be at least 5000 eager fans hoping he can hit the back of the net.
Pictures by Marty Melville and Ryan Pierse at Getty Images