Family ties in season opener

Two sets of brothers may take the pitch on opposite sides of the field this Friday night when the Newcastle Jets kick-off the 2008/09 Hyundai A-League Season against rivals the Central Coast Mariners.

The rivalry between the Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners has gathered substantial intensity over the past three seasons of the Hyundai A-League. The teams have played out some classic encounters in recent times, and the passion on the pitch and in the stands has elevated the value of the games to much more than simply the three points on offer.

However, it could be said that there will be a greater battle being played out when the two clubs collide this Friday night at EnergyAustralia Stadium; sibling rivalry.

Two sets of brothers could face-off on opposite sides of the pitch in the blockbuster Round 1 clash in the Jets- Tarek Elrich and his older brother Ahmad, and Adam D-Apuzzo and his younger brother David. Ahead of what could be a special night for the two families, Tarek Elrich spoke about the upcoming season opener.

“I-ve spoken to Mum and Dad more so than Ahmad. He was in the background yelling out, ‘get ready-, and ‘I-m going to put it over you-, and ‘get ready to get kicked-, and just being the older brother, bullying me. So hopefully I can get one over him again in the derby, the F3 derby, that would be great.”

Prior to the Grand Final rematch, the younger of the Elrich brothers has no uncertainty about who the rest of the family will be supporting come kick-off time.

“They-ve been going for us since day one. There-s a lot of loyalty in our family, they won-t just change teams because the older brother-s there. I-ve been here since day one so all their support will be with me,” Tarek said.

2006/07 was a breakthrough year for Tarek, playing in 23 of the Jets- 25 games en-route to the Hyundai A-League Champions trophy. The exciting right-sided player was also selected in Olyroos and Socceroos camps during the watershed season.

“That-s always a footballer-s number one priority; to cement your spot in the starting eleven. I-ve been working really hard on my game with Gary (van Egmond) and Mark Jones. They-ve helped me out heaps, using correct technique both in defence and in attack. So hopefully I can show that I-m a week-in week-out first grade player,” he said.

Elrich also believes that the Jets- squad for the 2008/09 Hyundai A-League Season will thrive off the pundits predictions that the team will not be able to emulate the lofty feats of last season.

“Again they-ve written us off, we-ve been tipped to come sixth and seventh. We like the underdog tag.

“We-ve got the whole of Newcastle behind us, and the Newcastle spirit. You never give up, we fight until the end. Our fans are always behind us, especially in round one, everyone-s going to be there in the numbers hopefully and we-ll go out there and fight until the end,” said Tarek.