Usain Bolt will prove his worth to his new coach
The Central Coast Mariners begin their 2018/19 A-League campaign in less than two weeks and everyone is curious about whether Usain Bolt will make an appearance. The fastest man in history began training with the team in August and he has graced the field in a couple of friendlies.
The Jamaican superstar has never played a competitive soccer game before, but coach Mike Mulvey said he is progressing well in training.
Bolt’s lightning pace could be a devastating weapon if the coaching team manages to bring the other elements of his game up to a decent level, and fans will be keen to see him in action after all the hype that surrounded his move to Australia.
It is fair to say that Central Coast’s 2018/19 campaign was a bit of a disaster for the Mariners. Mulvey’s men finished rock bottom of the A-League ladder, with 15 defeats from 27 games. They ended the season on a long losing streak, and they scored fewer goals than any other team throughout the campaign, so optimism does not exactly abound among fans right now.
The bookmakers are similarly skeptical. If you read reviews of the best sports betting sites around and find leading A-League odds you will see that Central Coast Mariners are the rank outsiders to win the title this coming season.
They begin their season away at Brisbane Roar, who are not among the favorites for glory, but the Mariners are still clear underdogs. Perhaps Bolt is the wildcard they need in order to turn their fortunes around. He has been operating as a left winger or striker during pre-season friendlies and his speed in behind the last defenders could cause all manner of problems for Central Coast’s opponents.
His control and his ability to deliver a final ball obviously require a fair bit of work, but if he can master the basics he could rack up plenty of assists and grab a few goals.
Mulvey is giving him until Christmas to prove his worth. “In the initial dispatches when Bolt signed in a high-profile move we talked about how he needed time, and I said at the time we will give him 12 months if need be,” said Mulvey.
“But I think a reasonable assumption would be around about Christmas time, January, we should be really judging on whether he’s really improved or not improved. He’s slowly getting there.”
The 32-year-old Olympic superstar ended his glittering athletics career last year and then declared his ambition to become a professional footballer. He has trained with Bundesliga outfit Borussia Dortmund and South African club Sundowns and he played in a friendly for Stromsgodset before heading to Gosford.
If he makes it as a soccer star, it would be a remarkable transition, but several athletes have excelled in multiple disciplines before, and Bolt’s rapid pace gives him a decent head start as he bids to dazzle on the soccer pitch.
He has not exactly set the world alight thus far in his friendly cameos, but he is unfazed by any criticism. “I’m used to stuff like that, also from competitors and the media,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to prove that with hard work anything is possible. I’m here to do my best.”
At 32, many soccer players retire, but Bolt said that athletics has not taken the sort of toll on his body that a contact sport would. He insists he has at least five years in which he can maintain the necessary physical condition to thrive, so we could see him as a fixture in this league for a while.
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