Grant still wary of Ronaldinho-less Wollongong

Sydney FC defender Rhyan Grant said he would have relished the challenge of playing against Ronaldinho in the FFA Cup and he can only imagine what it’s like to be travelling well enough, financially, to knock back $100,000 for a single game of football.


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While the vast majority are in the same boat as Grant on that score, the Sky Blues still remain wary of a Ronaldinho-less Wollongong Wolves side in the FFA Cup Round of 32 match that will be played at WIN Stadium on Wednesday night.

The New South Wales National Premier League side offered the Brazilian superstar the six-figure amount, reportedly guaranteed by a gaming company, but the 36 year-old declined it.

It is understood that closer to $250,000 would have been necessary to have tempted the former FIFA World Player of the Year.

Asked if he was happy or disappointed that Ronaldinho wouldn’t be appearing in Wollongong colours, Grant told The World Game: "Obviously it would be pretty unreal to play against someone like him, but at the same time he could make a massive impact".

"At the end of the day it was out of our control whether he played or not, so while it would have been a great experience. it’s good to go down there and be able to concentrate on ourselves and not have that sort of player to worry about.”

Grant said had Ronaldinho been present, it may have been a distraction that Sydney didn’t need in a game like this.

"If he had come here there would have been a lot of hype and a lot of media and it would have changed the way Wollongong would have looked at things," he said.

"But now they can continue to play how they’ve always played and we can go into the game with a similar approach.

"It would be hard to say no to $100,000, but I don’t think Ronaldinho’s short of a dollar and that’s understandable with the career he has had. I don’t think it’s going to hurt him too much, knocking it back."

Sydney will be on their guard against Wollongong for two good reasons.

Firstly, there have already been two huge upsets in the Round of 32, with Victorian NPL side Green Gully eliminating Central Coast Mariners and Queensland NPL team Redlands United knocking over A-League champions Adelaide United.

And, secondly, the Wolves had a morale-boosting 1-0 win over Parramatta City on the road in the NSW NPL on Saturday.

The victory ensured the club, which sits 11th in the 12-team competition, with one round to go, would avoid relegation.

"Yeah, we can’t look too much at their overall form this season," Grant said.

"We have to take them at face value and they’re coming off a win that meant a lot to them. They’re a good team on their day, so we have to be wary of that.

"The way some of the FFA Cup games have gone, with the surprises, you can see how well the NPL teams are doing, so we definitely can’t take them lightly and I’m sure the boys will be focused.

"I think that’s the beauty of the FFA Cup, isn’t it, that a team like Redlands can come out and beat the reigning A-League champions. That was massive for them and it’s good to see.

"It’s great for the players to get out there and be able to compete.

"But we don’t want it happening to us and the warning is there. Wollongong offers the same threat as those other clubs, so we have to be on our game.”

The risk of A-League teams being beaten by non-A-League outfits is at its greatest in the Round of 32, when the A-League clubs are only midway through their pre-season preparation and their opponents are approaching the business end of their season.

But Grant said Sydney had prepared well, with the precise intention of not being caught short.

"We’re taking the FFA Cup very seriously, so we needed that extra bit of preparation to make sure we’re ready and we’ve been able to get that from a couple of trial games already. I think that has been vital," he said.

"Training the last couple of weeks has been pretty intense and the new players are getting to know the players who were already here and vice versa, so things are looking positive.

"Hopefully we can go out there on Wednesday night and show how well we’ve prepared by playing the way we want to play from the word go."

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4 min read
Published 9 August 2016 at 9:48pm
By Greg Prichard