Previous
Portugal
Poland
1
1
FT
Game Details
Sweden
Russia
2
0
FT
Game Details
Scotland
Israel
3
2
FT
Game Details
Montenegro
Romania
0
1
FT
Game Details
Serbia
Lithuania
4
1
FT
Game Details
Kosovo
Azerbaijan
4
0
FT
Game Details
Malta
Faroe Islands
1
1
FT
Game Details
Next
Melbourne VictoryMelbourne Victory
Central Coast MarinersCentral Coast Mariners
4
1
FT
Game Details
Adelaide UnitedAdelaide United
Perth GloryPerth Glory
0
2
FT
Game Details
Newcastle JetsNewcastle Jets
Sydney FCSydney FC
1
1
FT
Game Details
Western Sydney WanderersWestern Sydney Wanderers
Brisbane RoarBrisbane Roar
2
2
FT
Game Details

What's it like to face Usain Bolt on a soccer pitch?

Usain Bolt's first goals for a professional football side caught worldwide attention, but while spectators zeroed in on the Olympic sprint legend in his first start for the Australian A-League's Central Coast Mariners, he wasn't the main focus for the men charged with marking him.

Macarthur South West United defender Josh Symons hadn't touched a ball since playing for APIA Leichhardt in their FFA Cup defeat to Adelaide United three weeks ago, and while he said Friday's match against the Mariners was a great experience, their celebrity centre-forward was not his primary concern.

"I wasn't really focusing on Bolt too much, I was more worried about Ross McCormack and also Jordan Murray who I played with before he joined the Mariners," Symons told ESPN. "I knew how dangerous they would be."

While Murray and McCormack were indeed first on the score sheet, it was Bolt's strike in the 57th minute -- his first of two in the 4-0 win -- that sent the Campbelltown, Australia, crowd into raptures, and Bolt had to beat Symons to do it.

"My only thought was to try and get my body in front of the ball; I went to block it and it just went underneath my legs," Symons said.

- Brantz: Lightning strikes twice for Bolt
- 'Too early to tell' on Bolt contract - Mariners CEO
- Bolt's switch to soccer puts him in exclusive company

The MSW team has been assembled to represent the region in its bid to host a new franchise as part of the A-League's planned expansion for the 2019-20 season. Declaring the match great exposure for the City of Campbelltown and a fantastic opportunity to push forward the Macarthur region's bid for A-League inclusion, Symons acknowledged it was Bolt who the fans came to see.

"He's got a long way to go to reach professional level; he can probably get there with the right coaching, but he's a big name and that's what people come to watch," he said.

Reluctant to be drawn on whether Bolt deserves a contract with the Mariners, he added: "There are players that have worked a lot harder and longer and there are probably more deserving players at NPL level, but that's where the Mariners management comes in and what they feel is going to get more fans to the ground."

Symons' teammate Nathan Millgate started the match at right-back and made his mark in the opening minutes when he beat the Olympic sprint king in a foot race for the ball.

Not many people can say they outpaced Usain Bolt, but Millgate was modest about his achievement.

"I think our centre-back slipped over, so I had to come across and cover. I don't think I outran him so much, he took a heavy touch and the angle probably made it look better," the 27-year-old said.

Millgate, like his teammates, had been on holiday for almost three weeks and had little notice before his call-up.

He said: "I was told around the Sunday before the match that I was playing, so we weren't focusing on Usain at all, our training sessions were about the shape of the team and how we were going to play."

One of the MSW United players with top-tier experience is midfielder Glen Trifiro, who played for the Mariners from 2014 to 2016 and faced his old side for the first time since his A-League days. The 29-year-old was delighted to be part of the event though he said it's the shortest stint he has ever had with a side.

"I had four teammates [from Sydney United 58 FC] in the team and I knew the central defenders from playing against them but everyone else I met for the first time," he said. "We had two sessions to prepare, one of which was really about working out our shape and getting introduced to each other.

"I've been part of some short-term football in my time but this was the first time being in a 'week' team."

While he too agreed the focus was not on Bolt, he said the hype was not lost on the players.

"Everyone knows [Bolt] is an unbelievable athlete, everyone in the world knows that. I spoke to [Jack] Clisby and he said Bolt can hardly walk down the street on the Central Coast without getting mobbed.

"The Mariners' tweet of the first goal got something like 4.7 million views. That's a big deal; no A-League player can match that publicity."

As to whether the global superstar has what it takes, Trifiro offered a frank assessment.

"He struck the ball well for his first goal but to be honest he was afforded a lot more space and the match was a lot slower than what he would face in the A-League," he said. "In the A-League he would find the lines a lot tighter, the defence will be sharper and faster. A top-level striker would probably have had five goals that night given the same opportunities."

As well as a playing career, Trifiro and brother Jason -- a former Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City midfielder -- have been coaching children since their teens, and their Futboltec academy that teaches youngsters about passing, finishing and overall awareness is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

On whether they could teach the world's fastest man a thing or two, Trifiro joked: "If we got him into Futboltec HQ and had a solid month working on his feet and technique we could get him up to scratch for the A-League.

"They are no doubt doing the same up on the Coast -- I'd have him stay back every day doing the extras, technical, not so much physical -- he can run fast in a straight line, but football and running with a ball at your feet is a totally different story."

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.