Fulham to get friendly on Coast
IN a massive coup for Gold Coast United, the A-League newcomers have confirmed they will host English Premier League side Fulham in a pre-season friendly at Skilled Park on Wednesday July 8.
Currently in ninth place with three matches to play, Fulham is enjoying one of its most successful seasons in the EPL, and United's head coach Miron Bleiberg believes Fulham's desire to build on the feats of this season will ensure a highly competitive encounter.
“Fulham are coming here to have a training camp and prepare for a premiership campaign in which they hope to continue their improvement,” he said.
“We can expect a very tough game; they're not coming here for a holiday, that's for sure.
“Everyone who loves football admires the English Premier League and it's very exciting for us to get the opportunity to play them as part of our preparations.
“Players and coaches always want to measure themselves against the best, and this match will add another dimension to our pre-season.”
United was openly disappointed it did not secure a home game for its season-opening clash with Queensland Roar - yesterday confirmed to become the Brisbane Roar - but chief executive officer Clive Mensink hopes local supporters will be buoyed by the chance to see a marquee event pre-season.
“After much deliberation on whether to pursue an overseas club for a pre-season fixture at Skilled Park, we decided to go ahead in light of the fact that our first Hyundai A-League game is not at home,” Mensink said.
“We think this is a great opportunity for the Gold Coast community to see some top-class football action in their own backyard, and it should whet everyone's appetite for the (upcoming) A-League season.”
“Fulham are a very, very good side with top players and we are very excited about hosting them here.”
The game will be the first in a trio of Australian matches for the premiership side, with Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory already locking in dates against the side whose goal is protected by Socceroos' custodian Mark Schwarzer.
Speaking about the game on the club's official website, Fulham boss Roy Hodgson said the tour would play a key role in the club's preparations for the next premiership campaign.
“I know that the climate on the Gold Coast where we will be based will help enormously with our planning for next season,” he said.
“We have an opportunity to play three teams of quality who I am sure will want to put on good performances against us.
“We hope this will assist the team in both their personal preparations, but also of course collectively.”
Hodgson's men will arrive on the Gold Coast for a training camp from July 3.
Details on how to secure tickets will be posted soon at www.goldcoastunited.com.au