Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Now Manly United are coming to town


Manly spread wings into Asia, but feet stay on ground
THERE has been a fair bit of hype and excitement surrounding Manly United's invitation to take part in the prestigious Bang Yos Gold Cup in Jakarta next month.
It's a fantastic opportunity for the peninsula club to spread its wings into Asia and for the players to further their experience - and careers.
But with the start of pre-season this week, I have stressed the importance of not losing sight of what is most important - the 2007 NSW Premier League.
That is our bread and butter and without wanting to be a party-pooper, the trip to Indonesia will be used as part of our preparation - rather than the reason for our preparation.
Of course we will be going there to do well and we'll be working hard on our fitness levels over the next few weeks. We want to be as professional as possible.
We'll be up against full-time professional players the calibre of former Argentine World Cup start Oriel Ortega, who plays for host club Persija Jakarta.
They made the finals of the S-League last season and the semi-final of the League Cup - no mugs I'm sure you'll agree!
The four Asian teams have been locked in live-in training camps for the past 10 days in preparation for the Bang Yos Gold Cup so I'm expecting their fitness levels to be more advanced than ours.
Our physical presence, organisation and ability at set-pieces will be crucial if we are to advance past the group stage.
The good news is we'll be heading to Jakarta with only the pressure we put on ourselves hanging over us.
The 12,000-seat Lebak Bulus Stadium apparently holds between 15,000 and 25,000 at this tournament and a couple of photos on various websites seems to verify this.
I'm no mathematician but those figures seem to suggest a very crowded football venue - the trees must have strong branches!
That ensures we are in for a hostile atmosphere on game day but it will prove an invaluable building block towards next season.
Nothing galvanises footballers like a tour of this magnitude and this tournament is perfectly placed in our pre-season program.
Together with our head of strength and conditioning Aron Murphy we have devised a program which will ensure we are competitive in Jakarta while also allowing the players to freshen up ahead of the season kick-off on February 25.
The good news is that the players all came back in good shape last Sunday after an extended 20-week off-season so ball-work can start sooner rather than later.
We are also exploring several methods of acclimatising the players to what they can expect in hot and humid Jakarta.
It's a fantastic opportunity and we intend taking it with both hands.

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