Friday, October 12, 2012

Crook plays down derby hype

Some managers might try to contain their excitement and refuse to get caught up in the hype that has NSW salivating at the prospect of a much-anticipated derby - not Ian Crook.

Far from shy away from the headlines being generated and column inches spared, the Sky Blues boss said he will tell his players to seize the moment and enjoy the big stage.

It a commendable attitude from the 49-year-old because for years now Sydney FC and Newcastle Jets fans have been pining for a domestic dust-up to savour - and why shouldn't the A-League embrace its day in the sun?

Saturday's match has been billed as the clash of the new arrivals, Alessandro del Piero and Emile Heskey, with A league betting markets involving the two imports proving popular, but there is a wider point here.

Both sides bombed in the opening round of fixtures and the Allianz Stadium showdown offers the chance to get points on the board.

An estimated 35,000 sell-out crowd is expected and Crook knows the arrival of the Azzurri legend means Sydney FC are an even bigger scalp.

"Sydney FC had that tag of 'bling' in year one, and since then it's carried on, and everybody wants to beat us," he explained.

What tends to happen is that the arrival of marquee players like del Piero not only raises his team-mates' game but also the opponents - as was proved last week against a fired-up Wellington.

Both clubs have raised the bar in terms of profile and it seems the FFA now has a product that is on the up and capable of making news soccer headlines across the country.

If Crook is to be believed, then it appears his players are ready to enjoy the ride and meet that challenge head on.

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