Sprint le­gend Bolt hits first goals in foot­ball bid

Gulf Times Sport - - FOOTBALL -

Sprint le­gend Usain Bolt made his case for be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional foot­baller yes­ter­day when he scored his first goals af­ter start­ing up front in a pre-sea­son game for Aus­tralia’s Cen­tral Coast Mariners.

The 100 me­tres world record-holder, who has been bid­ding for a pro­fes­sional con­tract since he re­tired last year, re­cov­ered from a painful kick in the groin to grab a dou­ble against Macarthur South West United in Syd­ney.

Bolt, 32, fin­ished with his left foot af­ter some slack mark­ing on 55 min­utes, cel­e­brat­ing with his trade­mark ‘Light­ning Bolt’ pose in front of more than 5,000 fans — a rare turnout for a pre-sea­son game. The Ja­maican, wear­ing num­ber 95 on his shirt in a nod to his 100m world record time of 9.58secs, then cap­i­talised on a de­fen­sive mix-up to score his sec­ond on 69 min­utes be­fore be­ing sub­sti­tuted six min­utes later with the score at 4-0.

It was the first game Bolt has started since join­ing the A-League club in Au­gust for an in­def­i­nite trial. “I’m just happy that I got a chance and I’m proud of my­self,” Bolt said af­ter the game. “It was a big deal... first start and scor­ing two goals. It was a good feel­ing. This is what I worked towards. I try to get bet­ter and I am on the way to do­ing that.”

Bolt said he had a “lot more to learn” and was keen to join the Mariners on a pro­fes­sional con­tract. “I’m keen, that’s why I’m here to play my best and to try and get into the team,” he added.

The su­per­star, a mas­sive Manch­ester United fan, was handed a chance to train with the A-League side for an in­def­i­nite pe­riod in order to pur­sue his boy­hood dream of be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional foot­baller. Whether he signs for the Mariners ap­pears still up in the air, but the brace bol­stered his case af­ter a dif­fi­cult first-half where he missed chances and ap­peared to strug­gle with the pace and move­ment of the game. “They’ve seen me in train­ing, they’ve seen what I’m ca­pa­ble of and so, they need to anal­yse and say, ‘Is he good enough for this club?’ and they will tell me that,” Bolt told re­porters af­ter the game. “I just did what I had to do and that’s as far as I can go.”

Re­cently in­stalled coach Mike Mul­vey said he was fo­cused on the first game of the sea­son for the Mariners, who fin­ished bot­tom of the ta­ble last sea­son, but heaped praised on the eight-time Olympic cham­pion for his goals. “You’ve got to be so happy for the guy, haven’t you?” Mul­vey told re­porters.

Bolt ap­peared to ap­peal for game time, say­ing he would im­prove as he gained more un­der­stand­ing of his team­mates and what they wanted. He has pre­vi­ously tried out with clubs in Ger­many, South Africa and Nor­way to no avail.

The Mariners have been giv­ing him one-on-one ses­sions on top of the squad’s train­ing in a bid to turn him into A-League ma­te­rial for when the sea­son starts a week from now. The Mariners will face Bris­bane Roar, the club Mul­vey was sacked from in 2014, in their first game next Sun­day.

(AFP)

Usain Bolt, play­ing for A-League foot­ball club Cen­tral Coast Mariners, jumps while con­trol­ling the ball in his first com­pet­i­tive start for the club against Macarthur South West United in a pre-sea­son game in Syd­ney yes­ter­day.

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