Lewis to push contract claims against Tianjin

The lure of a Hyundai A-League contract has provided ace Central Coast Mariners youngster Matthew Lewis with all the motivation he needs ahead of Tuesday’s AFC Champions League finale against Tianjin Teda at Central Coast Stadium.

The lure of a Hyundai A-League contract has provided ace Central Coast Mariners youngster Matthew Lewis with all the motivation he needs ahead of Tuesday-s AFC Champions League finale against Tianjin Teda at Central Coast Stadium.

Drafted into the Mariners- match day squad for the first time during the AFC Champions League a fortnight ago in Pohang, Lewis has now set his sights on game time against Chinese heavyweights Tianjin.

Lewis is one of the Mariners- National Youth League (NYL) success stories, having graduated from the Mariners- development squad with 16 appearances and one goal to his name.

With a host of first team regulars injured or unavailable for Tuesday-s clash, Lewis is well in the frame to make his first contribution to a senior Mariners fixture from the opening whistle and thus impress Football Manager Lawrie McKinna in a bid to shore up a place in the Mariners- Hyundai A-League 2009/10 line up.

"It-s my number one priority, hopefully I-ve done enough over the past four or five months to get a look in," said Lewis.

"It-s always been a dream to play football full time and hopefully I can do that here."

Though Tuesday-s encounter will not decide the outcome of the AFC Champions League 2009, the opportunity for fringe squad members like exciting 18-year-old Lewis to gain top-flight experience gives Mariners Members and supporters something to look forward to.

Lewis became the youngest Mariners player to be capped in the Hyundai A-League when making a brief cameo off the bench against Adelaide United at Bluetongue Stadium in the final round of the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season.

18 years, 7 months and 19 days of age at the time, Lewis has since become a full time member of the Mariners- AFC Champions League squad.

"It-s been a great experience, to train with the boys has been great, I-ve learned a lot from them and it was great to go over to Korea and get a look in," said Lewis.

"Hopefully Lawrie gives some of the young boys a go against Tianjin and it would be great to get a run."

The Mariners will return to their Central Coast Stadium home for Match Day 6 of the AFC Champions League to face the challenge of Chinese Super League heavyweights Tianjin Teda on Tuesday, 19 May. Kick off is at 8pm.

Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.