THE A-League's first club-versus-country confrontation could involve its biggest name, Sydney FC star Dwight Yorke.
Yorke will be hoping Sydney win this weekend's second leg of the major semi-final against Adelaide United and go straight through to the grand final on March 5 to avoid a looming clash with his national team, Trinidad and Tobago. If Sydney fail to get past Adelaide they will play in the preliminary final on Sunday week - when Yorke is planning to be in London to prepare for a World Cup warm-up match against Iceland three days later. Yorke captains his country, and has already been named in the squad to play Iceland by coach Leo Beenhakker.
Twice already this season Yorke has been excused from his A-League commitments to play for his national team. But those games were World Cup qualifiers and fell inside FIFA-sanctioned fixture windows. The friendly match against Iceland on February 28, by contrast, is not on a FIFA date.
More significantly, Yorke's previous absences from Sydney FC were for routine league matches. This time it could be for the match that decides their season. Not only that, if Sydney do win the preliminary final without Yorke and qualify for the grand final, then jet lag becomes a factor for the title decider. Yorke would not be back from London until a couple of days before the game.
Sydney chairman Walter Bugno declined to comment on the issue yesterday, but interviewed by Fox Sports before last weekend's match in Adelaide, Yorke was clearly hoping the debate would become academic.
"It's one of those situations we have to look at, for sure," Yorke said. "We won't be making a rational decision about it yet. We will sit down around the table if it comes to that. What is important [is] we continue to go in the right direction and put in a good performance to set up the second game in Sydney."
Sydney went on to do just that, and the 2-2 draw at Hindmarsh Stadium tilts the balance in favour of Sydney ahead of Sunday's return leg at Aussie Stadium. But Yorke will need to produce a five-star performance to make sure Sydney capitalise on their advantage against the minor premiers.