Fit again and set to fire, Central Coast Mariners midfielder Ahmad Elrich will relish any opportunity for game time at Central Coast Stadium on Wednesday night when the Mariners’ AFC Champions League campaign continues against Kawasaki Frontale.
Fit again and set to fire, Central Coast Mariners midfielder Ahmad Elrich will relish any opportunity for game time at Central Coast Stadium on Wednesday night when the Mariners- AFC Champions League campaign continues against Kawasaki Frontale.
The Mariners will be boosted by the inclusion of their lynchpin midfielder for Wednesday-s clash against Japan-s finest, with Elrich-s return to full fitness meaning that every member of the Mariners- 26-man squad is available for selection save for suspended pair Pedj Bojic and Matt Simon.
In order to match the always dangerous threat posed by representatives from the glamour league of Asia – the J.League – the Mariners will need the likes of Elrich on song for what promises to be the Mariners- sternest AFC Champions League challenge yet.
For their part, Kawasaki head to the Central Coast having notched their breakthrough win of the J.League season against fellow AFC Champions League participants Nagoya Grampus on Saturday – 3-1 at Kawasaki-s Todoroki Stadium home.
“Obviously they-re going to be a quality team, but they-re beatable, they-ve drawn against Pohang and we should have beaten them,” said Elrich.
“It-s going to be difficult, they-re going to be very good technically and very sharp, so we-ll have to watch them.
“It-s a massive game – if we beat them we-ll be sitting first and going over to Japan and Korea looking to play a tactical game aimed at getting results there.
“Home games are the important games for us though, we should be a bit fresher than them and we have to get three points.”
Elrich made his long awaited return in Mariners colours on Match Day 1 of the AFC Champions League 2009 against Korea-s Pohang Steelers – his first cap since suffering an anterior cruciate ligament tear in the Mariners- Hyundai A-League clash against the Queensland Roar at Suncorp Stadium in August 2008.
Elrich-s faster than usual rehabilitation has thrust him into selection calculations for the Mariners- historic continental debut, where his expertise could prove to be invaluable.
Prior to joining English Premier League club Fulham in 2005, Elrich spent a brief time in Asia with Korean club Busan I-Park.
During his time in Busan, Elrich netted one goal for his club from ten K-League appearances – from the penalty spot against Chunnam Dragons in November 2004.
“I feel fine, training is training but the most important thing is match fitness, so the more time that I get on the pitch, the better,” said Elrich.
“I-m feeling good, the knee is fine and I-m looking forward to Wednesday.
“I don-t know if I-m up for a start yet but 30 or 40 minutes would be good, but any time is good time, I-ll go out there, give 110% and enjoy it.”
The Mariners- inaugural AFC Champions League campaign will resume at Central Coast Stadium, where they will take on Japan-s Kawasaki Frontale on Wednesday, 8 April. Kick off is at 8pm.
Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website – www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.