Arnold: "We won't change for Del Piero"

CENTRAL Coast Mariners boss Graham Arnold expects the presence of Italian World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday to raise the performance levels of his players throughout the round 5 Hyundai A-League clash.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners boss Graham Arnold expects the presence of Italian World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday to raise the performance levels of his players throughout the round 5 Hyundai A-League clash.

Arnold believes players at rival A-League outfits have so far lifted their game when coming up against the Juventus and Azzurri legend, and expects no different from his side when the Mariners meet Sydney FC at Gosford-s idyllic bayside arena this weekend.

But Arnold said anyone thinking the Yellow and Navy would alter their approach against the Sky Blues because of Del Piero is badly mistaken.

“It-s a wonderful occasion to have him (Del Piero) coming to Gosford, but we-ll play our normal game,” Arnold said. “We know he-s a fantastic player and we-ll keep a close eye on him but there won-t be one player that will have a role of man marking him at all.”

“It will just be about doing what we do best and doing it right.”

Arnold added: “It-s more than just about Del Piero. It-s about Central Coast Mariners and the way we play.”

“I hope he plays. We want to play against him and I expect our boys to rise even more. I think he-s not only raised the level of Sydney but every team he plays against he raises the level of their performance as well. That-s what I expect from our boys.”

“It-s great that we are having such a world football star such as Del Piero coming up here to the Central Coast and I appeal to all the Central Coast supporters to get there because it may be the only time you see him at Bluetongue Stadium.”

Arnold was Assistant Coach of the Qantas Socceroos when Australia challenged an Italy team featuring Del Piero in the round of 16 at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

Having witnessed first hand his ability at the Fritz Walter Stadion in Kaiserslautern, and knowing only too well Del Piero-s star power off the pitch, Arnold is not surprised by the tremendous impact the former Padova player has had on Australia-s top flight.

Nevertheless, Arnold stressed that the Mariners have their own star foreigners in Patrick Zwaanswijk, Michael McGlinchey and Nick Montgomery, all of whom could have an influential impact on the match.

“I think there-s only one other person to have done what Del Piero-s doing in Australia and that-s David Beckham (in America-s Major League Soccer),” he said.

“But we-ve got our own 37-year-old in Patrick (Zwaanswijk), who in my view has been the best and most consistent foreigner that-s come to the A-League.”

“He-s been great since he came here and I expect him to be the same on the weekend. And I know Patrick is even looking forward to playing against Del Piero.”

In injury news, Tomas Rogic sat out training on Wednesday due to a few bumps and bruises he sustained against Melbourne Heart at the weekend.

While Arnold hopes the talented teen will be available for Saturday-s showdown with Sydney, he said he and his fellow coaching staff are somewhat alarmed by a statistic that has emerged from the first four rounds.

Indeed, one in every four fouls the Mariners have received this season have been on the skilful Rogic.

“ -Tommy- (Rogic) is the only Australian number ten in the whole league and the stats are showing that he-s getting fouled more than Del Piero but nothing is being done about it,” Arnold said.

“Referees are at this moment in time protecting others more than him. We-ve had to try and change his (Rogic-s) game a bit to handle that.”

“Tommy against Melbourne Heart on the weekend copped a pretty good kicking and he-s had to miss training. We hope he-s alright for Saturday.”

Central Coast Mariners vs. Sydney FC Saturday 3 November, 2012; Kick-off: 7:30pm (local) Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Tickets: Please CLICK HERE to purchase tickets to the match. Twitter: Get involved with the match conversation on Twitter! The official match hash tag is #CCMvSYD