Alessandro Del Piero rejoined Sydney FC for the first time this offseason but his presence was not enough to give the Sky Blues a victory in Japan on Wednesday. Sagan Tosu scored in the first minute and again late in the first half to earn a 2-1 victory over Sydney at the Best Amenity Stadium on the island of Kyushu.
Under the instruction of new assistant coach Rado Vidošić, as Frank Farina remained in Australia, Sydney employed an attacking 4-3-3 set. Yet the match started badly for the A-League visitors as Kota Mizunuma scored in the first minute. Sydney recovered quickly with Del Piero, Brett Emerton and Corey Gameiro leading the push-back. It was Rhyan Grant, fresh off his A-League All-Star Game appearance against Manchester United, who netted the equalizer for the Sky Blues. Del Piero and Grant combined before including Emerton, whose final pass set up Grant for the goal.
Level at 1-1, Del Piero set up Pedj Bojic and Gameiro for shots but neither could find a way past Tosu goalkeeper Taku Akahoshi. Four minutes from half-time, Tosu got its second when Mizunuma headed in Koki Kiyutake's cross.
Sydney looked to have equalized early in the second half after Bojic collected a saved Gameiro shot and fed Joel Chianese in the six-yard box but the 23-year-old midfielder was ruled offside and the goal disallowed. Del Piero exited on 73 minutes to a huge ovation, but Sydney were the lesser of the two sides even before his departure. Takashi Kanai barely missed in the 68th before Shohei Okada blasted a shot off the post late in the game.
Despite the loss to a team who are currently fifteenth place in the J-League, Sydney are unlikely to be overly worried, considering it was the club debut for Bojic, Gamerio and Marc Warren, the first time back with the Sky Blues in more than a season for Nick Carle and Matt Jurman, Farina's absence, the club dealing with the recent departure of Joel Griffiths and of course Del Piero's first meeting with the club since last season ended. Sydney are off to Italy early next week where they will spend three weeks training and playing five games.
ST Mizunuma 1'
SFC Grant (Emerton) 24'
ST Mizunuma (Kiyotake) 41'
Sydney FC: Janjetovic (Necevski 46'); Bojic (Triantis 65'), Ryall (Thiago 77'), Jurman, Warren; Emerton (Abbas 67'), Carle, Grant; Del Piero (Mallia 73'), Chianese, Gameiro