A-League kick off with Bolt question left hanging

Usain Bolt’s mission to win a professional soccer contract in Australia has dominated the A-League’s pre-season and could prove an intriguing sideshow throughout a championship that has lacked superstar glamor in recent years.

Usain Bolt
Usain Bolt

Bolt, trying to make his mark at Central Coast Mariners, netted twice in a trial match last week, generating headlines around the world but failing to remove doubts about the eight-time Olympic gold medalist’s chances of making the grade.

However, Bolt’s mere presence at Central Coast has given the sleepy region north of Sydney its time in the limelight, drawing thousands to warm-up games that would normally struggle to lure a few hundred spectators.

Football Federation Australia (FFA) has said it would not raid a special fund set up to lure marquee players to the league if the Mariners decide 32-year-old Bolt is worth the risk.

But it would likely move heaven and earth to keep the Jamaican Down Under, for his marketing value if not his footballing quality.

Adding another element of intrigue, Maltese champions Valletta FC have declared their interest in signing Bolt, dangling a two-year deal in front of him. However, his agent made it clear that the athlete have no intention of pursuing this opportunity in Malta.

What is certain is that Bolt will not be turning out for the Mariners when they open their season at Brisbane Roar on Sunday, and most probably not until the New Year at the earliest.

The league’s next registration period does not open until January 3, which could leave him a mere cheerleader for the first half of a season tipped to be one of the most open in years.

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