For Tarek Elrich the journey to Adelaide has been as much about finding his place off the field as securing a starting berth on it.
For Tarek Elrich the journey to Adelaide has been as much about finding his place off the field as securing a starting berth on it. Attracted by the lifestyle of the "city of churches" and the opportunity to make the right-back spot his own, Elrich believes his signing with the Reds is an ideal marriage.
Having landed in Adelaide six weeks ago, Elrich is happy with the way he has settled in. The talented defender has also not ruled out reviving his international career with Lebanon but for now the 26-year-old is intent on ensuring he gets to play in another grand final this year.
“I prefer a laid-back lifestyle and have enjoyed every moment since making the move,” said Elrich.
“Everyone-s made me feel very welcome and I can feel myself starting to get my confidence back.”
“I-ve always enjoyed playing in Adelaide, so when I heard the new coach was looking to sign a right-back I sent through some videos of my play and it all went from there.”
In terms of his international career, last week-s news that Wellington Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante has been cleared to play for the All Whites has a direct impact on Elrich-s representative aspirations.
Having previously been told by FIFA that he was ineligible to play for his parents- home country, Lebanon due to his participation with the Socceroos it seems this may now be a possibility.
Elrich was part of the same bench for Australia that precluded Durante playing for New Zealand, when the Socceroos played Indonesia back in 2010. The fact that Durante has now been given the all clear to play for the All Whites would indicate Elrich could play for Lebanon if selected but for now he is firmly focused on his club career.
“I always wanted to play international football, so when the opportunity came up with Lebanon it was something I looked into,” he said.
“I would consider playing for them in future but right now that-s on the backburner and I-m just concentrating on playing good football for the Reds.”
Much has been made of the new style of play Josep Gombau wants to introduce at Adelaide this year. The Barcelona carousel like passing game being one of the fundamental elements the Spanish coach wants to impose on their play. Elrich says the Reds are taking time to adjust to the new system but the progress in training has been promising.
“Obviously it-s a different style we-re all getting use to but the coach has been very clear in his expectations of the players and explained where mistakes are made,” said Elrich.
“We-ve been getting a lot of feedback and taking the time to ensure everyone is confident on the ball.”
Adelaide got their first test against A-League opposition of the pre-season when they played the Central Coast Mariners last week. Despite going down to the premiers on the back of a fortuitous own goal Elrich thought it was a solid performance.
“We had a lot of our best players out while they were nearly at full-strength,” he said. “We created quite a few chances, including one for myself and were unlucky to concede the goal that we did.”
“At this stage of the season it-s not just about the result but gelling as a team.”
Having been a part of the Wanderers squad that won the Premier-s Plate in their inaugural season Elrich knows the importance of buying into a team dynamic and competition for places. While this ultimately meant he only played the last 20 minutes of last year's grand final Elrich has a resolute determination to play a bigger part in a successful team this campaign.
“All the success we had last year is something I-ll never forget but everything happens for a reason,” he said.
“I started about eight weeks behind the boys but I feel I-ve caught up and have been playing in every game in pre-season.
“The coach has two or more players in every position competing for a place so I have to keep working hard and make sure when I get the opportunity I take it.”