Usain Bolt gets amongst it in the Central Coast Mariners' trial game at Gosford on Friday night.
Usain Bolt gets amongst it in the Central Coast Mariners' trial game at Gosford on Friday night. WENN.com

Bolt can see the sledges coming

USAIN Bolt says he isn't fazed by potential criticism from opposing supporters or the media, after a cameo appearance off the bench for Central Coast Mariners.

The Jamaican track legend played just over 20 minutes for the Mariners in a 6-1 win over a Central Coast select side in Gosford on Friday night.

Admitting to some early nerves, Bolt said he enjoyed every minute.

It was something of a mixed cameo from the eight-time Olympic and 11-time world sprint champion.

Both Bolt and Mariners coach Mike Mulvey rated his performance as OK, though pundits such as former Socceroo Mark Bosnich stressed the former athlete still had a lot of work to do.

Playing as a winger and striker, he got a few touches, came close to scoring in stoppage time and was confident enough to run at opposing defenders.

But Bolt was clearly short of peak fitness and sometimes lost possession and didn't always read where his teammates' passes were going.

Bolt said fitness apart, his movement off the ball was the aspect he most needed to improve.

"Knowing and understanding where I should be when the ball is played to the wing or inside and on defence, it's all about the movement," Bolt said.

While he received a rapturous reception from the crowd of just under 10,000, Bolt recognised he could get a rougher ride elsewhere in a country where sledging is an art form and a staple at sporting venues.

"Home games I don't have to worry about that, I think maybe away games will be a little bit different," he said.

"But for me I'm used to stuff like that, also from competitors and the media."

Although he has switched to soccer at the relatively late age of 32, Bolt stressed running hadn't taken as great a toll on his body as playing a contact sport would have done.

"We don't have the contact (in football), so I don't think it's hard on my body, so I'm good for five years," Bolt said with a chuckle.

"I'm in good shape and feeling young."

Bolt expected to be at his best in about four months and was confident of signing a contract with the Mariners by that point.

Mulvey said: "The comments I made on the very first press conference (after Bolt arrived) was that I'll give him 12 months if required, and I've already heard that he's said 'give me four months to get fit', so we'll see."

- AAP

News Corp Australia


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