Albion face Orlando friendly on Wednesday
CRAIG Gardner is excited about the prospect of coming up against Kaka when Albion face Orlando City tomorrow night (ko 7.30pm USA/12.30am UK).
Albion tackle the Florida-based Major League Soccer (MLS) side in the first of three pre-season friendlies on their 10-day stay on the East Coast of the USA.
It promises to be a special occasion at the Citrus Bowl, Orlando – where the hosts will be captained by former AC Milan and Real Madrid midfielder Kaka, who lifted the World Cup with Brazil in 2002 and claimed both the Ballon d’Or and World Player of the Year awards in 2007.
And having tested himself week in, week out against some of the best players in the world in the Barclays Premier League, Baggies midfielder Gardner is looking forward to lining up against Kaka.
“We want to get fitness and sharpness but we also want to enjoy it,” he said, with Albion facing further matches against Charleston Battery and Richmond Kickers in the days to follow.
“It’s a great experience to come over and play Orlando.
“They have got Kaka playing for them so it will be great to play against him.
“They are world-class players. If you don’t get a buzz playing against players like Kaka you are in the wrong game.
“But we have to make sure it’s about us, so we have to make sure we approach the game right and get the sharpness and the minutes into our system.
“It’s about fitness and sharpness and getting minutes under our belt.”
Albion arrived in the USA on Sunday evening, with just one day’s rest following a demanding nine-day training camp in the Austrian Alps.
Reflecting on pre-season to date, Gardner added: “It’s been good. It’s been really tough but that’s what we expected.
“But we’ve all enjoyed it and now we’re getting towards the more important bit where the games start.”