GCU turn to basketball

Eccentric Gold Coast United coach Miron Bleiberg has turned to basketball in order to give his side the upper hand at set pieces this season.

Eccentric Gold Coast United coach Miron Bleiberg has turned to basketball in order to give his side the upper hand at set pieces this season.

The former Israeli Navy captain, infamous for his left-of-centre approach to football and life, took a handful of his defenders and put them through their paces with Joey Wright, coach of NBL side Gold Coast Blaze on Thursday morning - and hilarity ensued.

Wright was teaching them the fine art of screening - a blocking move by offensive players - which Bleiberg hopes will come in handy at dead-ball situations.

It's not the first time this pre-season that Bleiberg has looked away from the pitch to teach his troops the principles of football.

In July, the colourful coach swapped balls and boots for pawns and castles in the hope that an afternoon of chess would get them thinking one or two steps ahead of their opponents.

But Bleiberg explained there was method to his madness.

"We have quite a tall team and I want to take advantage from set pieces and be smarter and wiser than the opposition," Bleiberg said.

"Everyone who watches football knows the hustle and bustle in the penalty area with around 20 guys standing anticipating the ball."

"You have to be smart and not just push and shove. That's how the idea came along to learn about screening."

"We took six of our big guys, who'd usually go up for corners, and we're working on a few movements. Hopefully it will work."

"It was actually the initiative of Joey Wright from the Blaze. He said, 'how about we do some cross training' and I told him except for Alex Smith, who is American, and myself, who played a bit of basketball 40 years ago, we don't have enough firepower."

"But if we can borrow a little bit of his intellectual property I'll be happy."

United have always been strong at set pieces but a focus on them might not be a bad idea after the departure of sharpshooters Shane Smeltz and Bruce Djite over the off-season.

The Coast have struggled to find a cutting edge up front in training matches, most notably when they were held to just one goal in two draws against the New Caledonian national team in their friendly series last week.

Bleiberg admits his side still has a lot to work on but expects everything to fall into place up front once his final striker, Dylan Macallister, arrives for pre-season training.

"It's funny, people think I'm an attacking coach but it's deceiving because I always make sure that the defence is strong," he said.

"I believe if you don't concede and you have a strong defence, you won't lose the game and you can afford to attack with numbers because you know you're strong at the back.

"It's like a building. If the foundation is right you can build it taller. I want to make sure, especially with a young and quick team up front, that the foundation is right."