© istockphoto.com/ Lewis Wright

United fully fledged

GOLD Coast United face their biggest challenge to date tonight, when English Premier League outfit, Fulham descend on Skilled Park.

While United are poised to embark on their inaugural season in the A-League, Fulham have just completed their eighth season in top flight football - their most successful to date.

Finishing seventh and requalifying for Europe, Fulham registered victories over several of the world's richest and most renowned clubs, but United too have generated some form of their own since coming to fruition.

As well as scalping fellow newcomers North Queensland Fury, United embarked on a hugely successful three-game tour in which they thumped Noumea 5-0, Singapore under-23s 4-0 and Hong Kong FC 5-0.

Hence Myron Bleiberg's men are pumped about taking their run against the big boys to five from five, and no-one more so than skipper Jason Culina.

“I've been waiting for a few months now to get into training with the boys here at United... and the trip was about getting to know all the other boys in the squad and having a run,” he said.

“But playing Fulham will be our first real test.

“It's always great to play in games against top opposition and it gives you a chance to see where you fit in the scheme of things.

“It will be great for us as a squad but even greater for football fans on the Gold Coast to see a team from the English Premier League.

“They are a club from the top level of football who had a very good season and I encourage everyone to get to the match.

“I'll be looking to embarrass (good friend and fellow Socceroos) Mark (Schwarzer) too.

United boss Miron Bleiberg said he was looking forward to the contest and that his side will be looking to take advantage of any “ring rustiness” that may be afflicting the EPL stars.

“We know this is going to be a very tough game, but we also know that perhaps this is a good time to play them as it's so early in their pre-season program,” he said. “Our players are in their second month of pre-season training, but Fulham will only be in their second week, so naturally we will be doing everything we can to take advantage of that.

“I watched them on TV about 10 times last season and they will, of course, know nothing about us.

“We know what a good side Fulham are and we know the very high standard of the competition they play in, but we have good players who work hard and we will be giving it our very best shot.

“We will approach this game like we approach any other - with confidence - because that's the mindset we have established with our players from day one and we see no need to change that.”

The long-awaited clash kicks off at 8pm.

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