IN A massive blow to organisers, Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata has confirmed Italian football superstar Alessandro Del Piero will not play in the A-League trial on Sunday against Brisbane Roar at Mackay's Virgin Australia Stadium.
Following Del Piero's multi-million dollar two-year signing with Sydney FC late last week, hopes were raised the former Juventus player would arrive in Australia in time to make an historic playing debut in Mackay.
However, Pignata has revealed, Del Piero, recently voted Italy's current favourite sportsman will bypass Mackay with the marquee signing having a number of commitments in Italy and Sydney to fulfil before the A-League kicks off on October 6.
"We had definitely hoped Alessandro would be available for the Mackay match but he has a number of prior engagements to meet before and after he arrives in Australia," he said.
"He isn't due to touch down in Sydney until days after that match.
"It would have been great for the people of Mackay to have seen him play but I'm sure the match will still be an excellent spectacle."
The Azzuri striker's playing confirmation in Mackay would have been a promoter's dream with interest in his signing and impending arrival in Australia already at fever pitch ahead of the start of the A-League. His presence would have also generated huge interest in the upcoming trial with match organisers so far experiencing moderate sales ahead of Sunday's match.
Virgin Australia vice-chairman Brett Leach said to ensure the match's success it was critical the Mackay community supported the event.
"It's crucial the match is well supported by football fans, mums, dads and general Mackay football supporters to ensure the Roar see there is a reason to come back to Mackay," he said.
"Who knows maybe some day there will be a proper A-League game in town but for that to happen we need to see Virgin Australia full on Sunday so they can see that support."
Despite Del Piero's confirmed absence, the match still has plenty of significance with Brisbane chasing a hat-trick of A-League titles this season and looking to find form after a 6-2 away hammering just days ago against Adelaide FC.
Tickets for the match can be bought at the MECC.
The A-League trial between Sydney FC and the Roar is on Sunday at Virgin Australia Stadium at 3pm.
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