A-League: Sydney FC to host Melbourne Victory in ‘Big Blue’

Former Manchester United star Nani has promised to show Australian football fans what they “love to see” in an A-League career that starts on Saturday night at Allianz Stadium.

The competition’s prized off-season recruit landed in Sydney on Friday with his Melbourne Victory teammates ahead of this weekend’s “Big Blue” and was quick to warn the Sky Blues of his intention to show his undoubted “quality”.

“I have some friends who have already said they want to go to the game and they’re excited for me to be in this league,” the Portuguese legend said.

“It’s a great experience for me and I hope (Saturday) can be a great night for me and our fans.

“The main thing is to … put myself in a condition to play as much as possible, and show the fans what the love to see on the field.

“I need to work hard and I will work hard.”

Star Sydney FC recruit Joe Lolley described attacking weapon Nani, a multiple English Premier League winner with United, as a “world-class talent”.

“It’s going to be a difficult game.” ex-Nottingham Forest winger Lolley said.

“They’re a team like Sydney, striving to be at the top, so it’s going to be a good test early on in the season. Hopefully we can come up with the right result.”

Sky Blues coach Steve Corica said his side had no choice but to “stop” Nani.

“Everyone knows how good a player he is,” Corica said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him play as well but … we have to stop him.”

The Sydneysiders – who are set to be without another of their off-season recruits in Jack Rodwell due to a groin problem – are desperate to impress on their return to the revamped Allianz Stadium after failing to play finals football last season.

In contrast, the Victory fell just one game short of a grand final appearance last season in a campaign of resurgence under coach Tony Popovic.

“I experienced last season what the ‘Big Blue’ is to the Melbourne Victory fans and the Sydney FC fans,” Popovic said.

“I’m delighted we’re having a large number of our fans coming to the game. They’ll be there in big numbers and loud, I’m sure.

“It will be a great atmosphere against a club I expect to be challenging again.”

In an open letter to football fans, A-League boss Danny Townsend said this season’s focus was on “filling our stadiums”.

“We want to rebuild the fan experience, to get behind our active fans so they can bring their passion and noise and love of football, and show the atmosphere that only football can create,” Townsend said.

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