Tottenham Hotspur touched down in Sydney to much fanfare today, and manager Mauricio Pochettino and players Harry Kane and Ryan Mason addressed the media alongside Sydney FC counterparts Graham Arnold, Sebastian Ryall and Jacques Faty. Mark Houston was at Circular Quay.
Tottenham Hotspur arrived at Sydney Airport to a raucous reception from Spurs’ Australian fanbase, with English Premier League Young Player of the Year Harry Kane the clear fan favourite. Kane bagged 31 goals in all competitions in 2014/15 – 21 of those in the Premier League making him runner-up in the Golden Boot standings – and was front and centre for the opening press conference of the tour at Circular Quay overlooking the Sydney Opera House.
“It’s amazing to come through the airport and see God knows how many fans there,” he remarked on the greeting the team received.
“It was amazing at the airport. Sometimes you don’t realise the support around the world; we saw it in Malaysia and now here.”
Manager Mauricio Pochettino was equally impressed with the welcome they received from Sydneysiders.
“It’s my first time in Sydney, a great and fantastic city,” the Argentine said.
“It was a fantastic and warm welcome from our fans in Australia, it was a great experience.”
Switching attention from the welcome and the Harbour-side backdrop, Kane reflected on his breakout season that continues with the Malaysian and Australian tours before he joins the England U21 squad for the European Championships.
“This season has gone pretty well, so I just want to keep playing… I don’t think a lot of it has sunk in yet. It’s been amazing but hopefully it’s just the start.”
The excitement of the English side’s arrival on our shores extends beyond fans and the general public though, and Sydney manager Graham Arnold sees it as a perfect opportunity to test his squad against some of the world’s best.
“It’s great to test our skills against a team that came fifth in the Premier League, and to showcase the A-League to a wider audience,” said the Sky Blues manager.
And that sentiment is echoed by defender Seb Ryall.
“For the A-League to come this far and attract teams like Spurs and Chelsea is fantastic,” said Ryall, while also wary of the challenge that European-calibre opposition brings.
“We pride ourselves on our defence and we’ll have to be at our best [to stop the likes of Kane]”.
It’s not just Sydney who are aware of Spurs though, with the A-League televised in the UK and a certain Socceroo spending some of his teenage years at Spurs, Ryan Mason is familiar with Australian football.
“I’ve got a mate Massimo [Luongo] who I played with [in Spurs youth teams] so we know about the standard [of Australian football],” said the 23-year-old, who recently earned his first international cap for England in March.
“It’s exciting and it’s a good opportunity to come and see the country and put on a great show for the fans,” he added.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Sydney FC kicks off at 7:30pm at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, where a crowd of 70,000-plus is expected. The match will be broadcast on Channel 7.