Coverciano, based in the outskirts of Florence, is by far one of the most impressive football training facilities in the world. It is equipped with five grass pitches, one synthetic, a gymnasium, multiple boarding houses, stadium like facilities and an Italian Football Museum.
A result against, A.C Prato, 3rd in the Italian Serie C2 competition, was always going to be a tough ask for the young Aussies, but credit to the Sydney boys, they fought for 90 minutes, and went away with a credible outcome.
It was the Australian?s that fashioned the first chance of the match, diminutive striker David Campo rising the highest in the box to head over a cross from Matthew Costantini.
The game was very much a midfield battle and it wasn?t until the 33rd minute that Prato took a firm grip on the match. A corner from the right wasn?t defended well and an un-marked Silva Reis rose and headed in from close range.
Prato went 2-0 up minutes later when captain Narducci made a late run into the box to slot home his side?s second goal of the match.
Credit to Sydney Tigers as they didn?t lie down, and it was acting skipper Jason Trifiro who master-minded his sides first goal of the game. Beating his man, Trifiro knocked a perfectly weighted ball onto the head of Tommy Taylor. Taylor, heavily challenged in the air just managed to get his header on target, as it rolled across the line, Campo following up to make sure it was only a one goal deficit at half-time.
Sydney Tigers coach Barry Walker made a host of substitutions at half time, ensuing his whole 22 man squad was given a run-out against the battle-hardened professionals.
Like-wise, Prato coach Di Stefani introduced Australian born Max Vieri among his myriad of changes at the break.
It was substitute forward Basilico who got the ball rolling in the second half, strolling into the penalty area, shrugging off the challenge of Frank Riggio before beating goal-keeper Michael Rutherford with a simple finish.
Sydney Tigers almost got another goal back in the 54th minute, Trent Pagnozzi attacking a corner kick, his header cleared off the line for another corner.
They did eventually bring the scores back to 3-2 when Kevin Oliveira took off on a run down the right hand side of the park in the 62nd minute. The little winger left three Prato players in his wake before cutting the ball back to Liam McConaghy who dived in ahead of his markers to slide the ball home from 3 yards.
The hope of an equalizer was short-lived however, Vieri making it 4-2 just minutes later with a sharp turn and shot that Rutherford could only help into the back of the net.
Prato put the result beyond doubt with a second goal from Silva Reis and a brilliantly dispatched free-kick by the re-introduced Ferrario just minutes from full-time.
DAY 8 (7th of February): Trial Match vs A.C Prato
A.C Prato 6 vs SYDNEY TIGERS 2
Sydney Tigers: Varnier; Sahin, Andricopoulos, collard, talone; Trifiro(c), Casali, Costantini, kose; taylor, campo
Substitutes: Ramirez, Riggio, o?rourke, maruzza, rutherford, Macura, pagnozzi, baloglow, mcconaghy, oliveira, mcgrouther
Coach: Barry Walker
Goals: McConaghy, Campo
A.C Prato: Layeni; peluccia (vieri 45), Cecchi, guarisa, padella; narducci(c), accaiai; moscardi (basilico 45), ferrario (crotti 45), ouchene (piantoni 45); silva reis
Coach: Oliveiro Di Stefani
Goals: Vieri, Ferrario, Narducci, Basilico, Silva Reis x2