Sydney FC coach Ian Crook has cautioned that Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero won't be entering an easy competition, even though some people overseas may regard the A-League as second-rate.
Former English Premier League player Crook said even the likes of returning EPL stars and Socceroos players Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton had found the A-League more difficult than they had anticipated.
"This isn't an easy competition," Crook said, after the news Italy legend Del Piero had signed a two-year contract with Sydney.
"From outside people look at it and think it's second-rate, but it's physically demanding, harder grounds.
"We'll work with him [Del Piero] in regards to that and get him into the best possible shape to perform on match day."
While it's been several months since Del Piero has played for Italian giant Juventus, Crook was confident his 37-year-old recruit would be in good shape.
"Juve finished their season a while ago now but I'm sure with the type of professional he is, he would certainly have been ticking over," Crook said.
He said it wasn't ideal that Del Piero may only get to play in one of Sydney's three remaining pre-season games.
"But he's such a great pro I think he'll fit into everything that we do really comfortably and we'll try and get him as much game time between now and the start of the season as we possibly can," Crook said.
Goalkeeper Mat Ryan, defender Pedj Bojic and midfielder Oliver Bozanic look to have played their last games for Central Coast Mariners as the A-League champion faces a raft of departures.