|By EMMA STONEY
Sydney coach Ian Crook conceded Wellington Phoenix fully deserved their 2-0 A-League win on Saturday.
The Sky Blues were outplayed by the New Zealand side and even marquee signing Alessandro Del Piero could not produce the magic needed to get a win on his debut.
"We turned the ball over a bit too much," said Crook.
"The positives for me were that we continued to try and play. We've set the boys some targets we're looking to achieve in terms of the way we play.
"It's disappointing but full credit to [Wellington], they deserved to win the game."
Sydney have been hamstrung by a lack of competitive fixtures in the build-up to the season opener. Del Piero had just one interclub game with the squad before Saturday night's match at Westpac Stadium and at times it showed.
"It's the first time we've had this group on the pitch playing in a meaningful game," said Crook. "So one thing I'll give the boys credit for is they continued to try and play."
The Sydney coach was happy with Del Piero's contribution. The 37-year-old lasted the full 90 minutes and showed glimpses of what he is capable. His footwork and skill on the ball were excellent and he almost conjured up a late consolation goal only to see his effort curl just wide.
"I didn't think he was too bad," said Crook. "I think he showed at times some fabulous quality for someone who got off the flight two weeks ago.
"At times I thought some of the stuff was fantastic. But we were expecting that anyway because he is who he is and what he is, which is a top-class pro.
Del Piero said he felt "okay" after lasting the full match.
"I played 90 minutes but I need to do better," he said.
"I need to improve physically and [playing] with the team and I have to do it soon.
"I'm not satisfied because we lost. But it's the first match. We need to improve. We need to play together a few times because I've only been here a few weeks and we've played just one game together. Tonight Wellington played very well."
Sydney also have some concerns about Terry Antonis, who left the field in the second half suffering from symptoms of concussion and was taken to hospital for checks.
"When he came off he said he had a whack in the first half but we didn't know about that," said Crook.
"He's feeling extremely sick and not well at all. We'll just wait and see on that one."