ALESSANDRO DEL PIERO could not have been happier to chat with the media after training on Friday – if only because the reporters occupied a rare, priceless piece of shade. Besides, surely no question would be as painful as the heat from Sydney’s hottest day on record.
That was only at 9.45 in the morning, with the session kicking off an hour before – moved specifically to give the Sky Blues a minor workout without draining them completely before Saturday’s match against Wellington Phoenix.
Spare a thought for del Piero then, as his home for the past 20 years, Turin, is covered in a thick layer of snow and down to -3 degrees during the evenings. If they are lucky, it might reach a height of 1 degree in the next 24 hours.
Even if the oven-like conditions in Sydney were not part of the brochure he flipped through when he agreed to move to the harbour city, the 38-year old said he would find a way through.
”This is not a problem. It’s hot for us, but it’s hot for them. We have to play with confidence in this kind of weather,” he said, somewhat defiantly. ”It’s harder than usual, for sure, without hesitation – but it’s OK.”
Equally hot was the topic of relations between himself and Ali Abbas after the two endured a very public spat during the win over Melbourne Heart last weekend, though del Piero was quick to pour cool water.
”Sometimes it happens on the field when me, Ali or someone else wants to win, wants to fight, want to do good for the team,” he said. ”Sometimes you’re nervous, first of all, because we are not in a good position in the standings, but we want to do more and when you don’t do it, there’s some anger. It’s OK, it happened, and it finished before the end of the match. It’s no problem.
”For me, it’s passion. It’s passion for play, for win, from the first minutes until the 92nd or 95th, 98th or 108th. It’s all the time the same. I’ll do my best in all the matches.”
The good news for del Piero is that new signing Joel Griffiths is finally clear to play, which surely eases his load in terms of scoring goals and, more crucially, the amount ground he has to cover.
”He’s been training with us for three weeks now and he told me he’s been counting down, like [being released from] a jail,” he said. ”I’m happy for us because he’s one man who can help us to win and with Tiago [Calvano] also coming in, that’s good, and the coach has more options now. It’s good for him.”
Del Piero is confident he can strike an instant rapport with Griffiths – one that needs to produce instant results if the Sky Blues are to work their way out of the bottom four. ”We talk a lot and we prepare also something and we think, we hope, we do it tomorrow,” he said.
While the former Juventus star has expressed his desire to take up the option of a second year of his contract with Sydney, he admits talks have not progressed any further. ”No, nothing new – but nothing is wrong,” he said. ”Everything is quiet, but that’s OK. At the moment, it’s like the week before. I want – and we want – to think only about the next game and then we have time to talk about me.”
Sydney coach Frank Farina admitted that a coach ”can’t really do much” preparation work in such heat but that the ”short, sharp session” was all that was required.
Farina also confirmed that Griffiths and Calvano would start, with some speculation rising that captain Terry McFlynn could return to the midfield in place of Peter Triantis.
”Joel and Tiago are players I’ve brought in and they’re ready to go and ready to start, and hopefully they’ll do well,” he said. ”I’ve already spoken to Joel and I want him to play his natural game. I’m not going to be teaching him how to play football. He’s aggressive, he chases, he’s a good finisher and he’s a winner.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.