Central Coast Mariners custodian Mathew Ryan celebrated his 21st birthday in China on Monday and will be hoping for a belated present in the form of a positive result against Guizhou Renhe.
Ryan is set to start in goal for the Mariners in their AFC Champions League match day four clash with Gong Lei’s team at the Guiyang Olympic Sports Centre on Tuesday night.
He says he wouldn’t consider swapping the opportunity to ply his profession internationally for a more traditional 21st birthday bash.
“I can’t really celebrate my birthday in the typical fashion that you celebrate a 21st birthday, but I have the best job in the world so there’s no better way to do it,” he said.
Ryan stood between the posts for Graham Arnold’s team last week when the Mariners defeated Guizhou 2-1 at Bluetongue Stadium to move to second spot in Group H of Asia’s premier club competition.
The Australia squad member says he and his teammates are feeling good ahead of the game after an arduous journey to Guiyang from Sydney via Guangzhou.
“I think last night a few of the boys were a bit tired after getting here about midnight local time,” he said.
“But after having a sleep in the rooms last night I think everyone’s mood has lifted a little bit.”
Having commenced his professional career as a teenager, Ryan has no doubt the primarily young squad at Arnold’s disposal in China can do the job against Guizhou.
Ryan reckons the eagerness of Arnold’s ambitious youngsters to impress stands the team in good stead against the Chinese Super League side.
“There is nothing more I like than to see a young boy getting a chance and taking it,” he said.
“They’ve all had a taste of first-team football here at the Mariners and they’ve all held their own, and they’ll be looking to do that again.
“Being a young boy, you’ve kind of got no fear. You just kind of go out and live up the moment. Hopefully we can work hard and grind out a result.
“The boys can take a lot of confidence out of the result at home.
”Being on the road this time things are a little bit different with the travel, but we’re confident we’ve got the team structure and have brought the team across that can come here and get a positive result tomorrow night before going home to the semi on Sunday.”
Ryan also took time to thank the 16 supporters on the club’s official ‘Mariners On Tour’ trip to China.
“The supporters are one of the main reasons why we play the game,” he said.
“For such a decent following to come over here and support us is much appreciated by the players.”
AFC Champions League
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