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Sep 21, 2011

Harry Kewell fever reaches pitch in SA

Harry Kewell fever is about to hit a pitch.

And like thousands of others, Adelaide United coach Rini Coolen has caught the bug.

Kewell will make one of Australian sport's most anticipated debuts when he dons Melbourne Victory colours against Coolen's Reds on Friday night.

The fixture in Adelaide is a only an A-League trial match, but there is nothing low key about it.

The Reds expect a 10,000-strong crowd to attend Hindmarsh Stadium to watch Kewell, who will likely play only a half.

The build-up to the match has attracted a daily 'Kewell Countdown' in Adelaide's newspaper.

Adelaide United's previous trial matches have gone largely unnoticed in the South Australian capital.

But not this one.

Coach Coolen on Thursday held a news conference attended by 10 journalists and half a dozen cameras - among the largest media pack assembled at Adelaide United.

Unsurprisingly, the opening question revolved around Victory's glamour recruit, with Coolen asked whether he had ever seen anything like this, the Harry factor.

"No," Coolen said.

"But that is positive, that is good.

"We were excited that one of our trial games was against Melbourne Victory, it's always a special game.

"But after we found out that they have signed a player like that, that makes it a little bit more a better game for everyone."

Kewell will face the Reds a day after his 33rd birthday.

The soccer superstar has so far only featured in one intra-club match - attended by more than 3000 spectators - since joining the Victory in what the club hailed the biggest signing in Australian sport.

Despite the hype, Coolen tried to paint Kewell as just another Adelaide United opponent.

"I don't even know if he's on the pitch tomorrow, maybe he's part of it or comes in," Coolen said.

"But we prefer to work on our shape and it doesn't matter what our opponent is."

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