Sydney, Jets game promoter’s dream
It’s been billed as the showdown between Sydney’s Alessandro Del Piero and Newcastle’s Emile Heskey and the former England striker admits the blockbuster A-League encounter is a promoter’s dream.
The Sky Blues’ highly anticipated first home game of the season is expected to gather a record regular-season crowd of over 30,000 at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.
It will be the first time the two marquee recruits have clashed, although they came very close 12 years ago.
England played a friendly against Italy in 2000 and Heskey was substituted at the exact moment Del Piero entered the pitch.
“We actually have never played each other,” Heskey said on Friday.
“There was the England v Italy game where I came off in the 73rd minute and he came on in the 73rd minute – so we almost did.
“But this game is a promoter’s dream.
“We’ve both had reasonably good careers so it’s a good match to look forward to.”
Both teams will be eager to kickstart their season after opening with disappointing 2-0 losses last week spoiling both Heskey and Del Piero’s A-League debuts.
Despite the Jets going down to Adelaide, Heskey said he was impressed with his team’s possession, especially after being reduced to 10 men when goalkeeper Mark Birighitti was shown a red card for a handball outside the area.
Sydney, meanwhile, were defeated by Wellington but Heskey said Del Piero still displayed his vintage quality through the match.
“He’s a brilliant player,” Heskey said.
“You can see some of the touches he had in the game, he still has the ability to thrill a crowd and create chances.
“So we’ve got a hard task.
“We do need to improve but I think we kept the ball well and kept possession, even with 10 men.
“But we’ve got to try to create a few more chances and hopefully get a few goals.”
Heskey, who revealed he’s carrying “a little groin niggle” as he gets used to a full-time training regime again, says he’ll be fit for Saturday’s clash.
The Former Liverpool striker, who came off in the 70th minute last week, hopes to play the full 90 minutes on Saturday.
“I hope I can play a full game but we’ll see how it goes,” he said.
“Obviously it’s down to the manager, he chose to bring me off last weekend.
“But I’ll get the minutes in if and when I can.”
A large number of Jets fans are expected to make the trip down the F3 for the encounter, with the away-supporters’ stand reportedly sold out, and Heskey says his side will be revelling in the atmosphere.
“It’s going to be a massive game, going to Sydney – a big city,” he said.
“You always want to win against your big-city rivals.
“There’ll be 30,00 people screaming, cheering and getting us going so we’re raring to go.”© AAP 2013