It was a tough ask in Brisbane last week. Key match day players lost to the transfer at the last minute and facing the rampant league leaders in their own back yard. We didn’t get the win I predicted but despite the Roar’s dominance, we were still unlucky not to get out of Suncorp with a draw.
Soaking up plenty of pressure, we made a couple of neat opportunities for ourselves and managed to put ourselves ahead from a coolly taken penalty by experienced midfielder Mile Sterjovski. Brisbane pushed us hard in the second half but for much of it our defensive structure was equal to the task and, to the credit of our teams character, it took a long time for Brisbane to find their way to an equaliser. Just when it appeared our toil would lead to a well-earned point, some sloppy play from tired defenders lead to a last minute deflected Roar chance hitting the back of the net. Given the events of the previous week, I think it was a superb effort, and one which will have opposition teams cautiously watching our efforts as we come into the business end of the season.
It’s been another week of surprises at the Mariners with the announcement of several new signings. It’s not something fans are used to experiencing but this transfer period we’ve signed more players than we’ve lost. Not only that, the specifics of the signings are such that most fans are looking at the remainder of the season and the AFC Champions League period with an optimism rarely felt before.
It started with Eddy Bosnar being signed from under the noses of our sky blue neighbours. More accustomed to having our own player targets signed by other clubs than luring them away from the opposition, this signing put a wry smile on my face and I’m sure many other yellow fans too. Eddy has a wealth of experience over many years and should provide quality, stability and leadership in our back four not seen since Patrick Zwaanswijk retired after the Grand Final. The Bosnar story was quickly followed by the announcement we had signed Korean star Kim Seung-yong to the club until the end of next season. Wow! There are no guarantees in football but if this guy’s history and reputation means anything, we look forward to his appearance with great excitement. Free kick ace, AFC Champions League winner – with a goal and an assist in the 2012 ACL final, Korean Olympic representative and youth international, not to mention playing with a list of top shelf Asian clubs in the biggest Asian leagues, I personally can’t wait to see him take the pitch. Coming to us at age 28 – “the peak of his powers” – as Mossy put it, we look forward to welcoming him to the team.
Other signings Isaka Cernak, Glen Trifiro and Matt Sims followed, with Cernak the most well-known of them, having played for a number of other A-League clubs. Trifiro was arguably the best player in the NSWPL last year and the former Mariner’s youth team member is set to return to the club and take his opportunity in the first team, on loan from Sydney United. Sims also played in the NSWPL for Sutherland Sharks last season and has previously played with Newcastle Jets NYL team. Having previously worked together at Manly United in the past, Phil Moss has high hopes of Sim, a left sided utility fitting into our side with great effect.
To my way of thinking this can all be summed up in a short statement – Central Coast Mariners fans have a lot to look forward to as season 2013/2014 heads into its most challenging period.
This weekend we return to our fortress Bluetongue to take on Melbourne Victory. We welcome Tomas Rogic back to where it all took off for him. Tommy went from a player no-one knew about to a player everyone wants, after his time at the Mariners, and while it was a shame not to see him come home to a yellow shirt, I wish him all the best as he tries to prepare himself for a shot at raising his profile even higher representing us all at the World Cup in Brazil.
The Victory have not covered themselves in glory recently. In fact they’ve been punched from pillar to post by the likes of the Phoenix and Sydney FC, allowing ten goals past while scoring none in the course of those efforts. Last week they salvaged some pride earning a draw in Perth but the team everyone was touting as competition favourites earlier in the season is now more focused on making sure they can grab a finals berth. Phil Moss will be wary of Muscat’s men, and in particular Rogic, who showed when starting for the first time last week that he can cut through defences with ease.
Despite the presence of Rogic, a host of quality Melbourne players and the unknown makeup of the Mariners as they await clearances for Bosnar and Kim, I think the Mariner’s will use the home crowd to advantage and return to the winners circle, stretching their lead over the Victory on the table, and placing plenty of pressure on the Wanderers, in second.
My prediction – Mariners by at least 1Google+