Cambodian Eagles will play host to the China Reds at the Navy Field on Saturday at 1pm in their second Australian Rules Football home game of the season.
This is the first time in many years that Cambodia will be up against visitors from China, who are bringing over a team drawn from the best of Beijing and Shanghai combined.
“There will be a lot of unknown quantities going into the game. China are expected to be a strong side, but we want to continue our two-year unbeaten record at home,” Eagles coach Grant Fitzgerald told the Post yesterday.
There will be some strong emotions going around the Eagles players and fans as one of the club favorites, Matthew “Big Cat” Rees, plays his final game before moving on and Allan “Prospect” Sortoris celebrates his recent victory over obesity.
The Eagles will extend a warm welcome back to a number of players for this key fixture including two popular rugby converts “AFL Dan” Wetherall and Ritchie “Spud” Flanagan, both of whom will add the all important depth to the side.
The Eagles have been working hard on the attacking part of the game. “Getting the ball to our forwards and converting those forward entries into goals have been a real focus in recent weeks,” the Eagles coach pointed out. “We need to convert possessions into goals in order to get a winning score.”
The Eagles are planning a strategic move to push captain Simon Whitney, who celebrates his 30th birthday this week, to the forward line in the hope of injecting some much needed pace and creativity.
Though the Eagles were beaten 78-48 in a tough game by the Malaysian Warriors in Kuala Lumpur two weeks ago, Fitzgerald’s men brought back some positives to work around.
The Warriors led for the most of that match, but a third-quarter fightback by the Eagles brought them to within three goals of their rivals. However, the visitors could not sustain the work rate at that critical phase as the lack of players on the bench began to pinch, allowing the well-drilled home side to kick away.
The one who made a big impact against the Warriors with his relentless attack on the football was Phil Hammer, while David Parrot was very influential in the ruck and around the packs. The Eagles coach meanwhile, as a combatant on the pitch, kicked four of the best goals his team-mates are ever likely to see.
It is the fear of the unknown that ultimately could work in favour of the Eagles, who, no matter how hard the game turns out to be, will zealously defend their unbeaten home record. That’s one thing the Eagles players and the coach are confident about.