Astute Arnold pleased with progress

Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold says he is pleased with his team’s progress so far this pre-season campaign as he prepares his squad for the Club’s Hyundai A-League Championship defence.

Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold says he is pleased with his team-s progress so far this pre-season campaign as he prepares his squad for the Club-s Hyundai A-League Championship defence.

The Mariners tactician insists his side will be ready for their Hyundai A-League 2013/14 season opener against Western Sydney Wanderers at Bluetongue Stadium.

“Pre-season is going well,” Arnold said on Tuesday. “We are fit and our endurance is good. We are in decent shape physically as we build into the season. We-ve still got about four weeks to go. We will make sure we are in good shape for Western Sydney.”

Despite a second-half goal to striker Matt Simon, the yellow and navy suffered a 2-1 defeat to Brisbane Roar in their first pre-season friendly against a Hyundai A-League opponent in Bathurst last Saturday. However, Arnold says there were a lot of positives to take from the encounter.

“We had a good hit out against Brisbane last weekend. We-re getting four or five new players into the system and there were a lot of positive signs from it. It is not going to happen overnight, but the most important thing at the moment is that we keep fit, we keep working hard and we keep improving,” he said.

Arnold says he-s happy to see new recruits Argentine playmaker Marcos Flores, experienced Dutch defender Marcel Seip and young gun Storm Roux settling well into the squad.

“It-s good to see Marcos, Marcel and young Storm starting to get the way that we play. We have done a lot of tactical sessions and quite a lot of video analysis to help them with it,” he explained.

Arnold admits timing is crucial as he prepares his squad for the forthcoming Hyundai A-League campaign and a fourth AFC Champions League appearance next year.

“It is a long season and we-ve got Asian Champions League again. We always try to make sure we are hitting our straps towards the back end of the season. It-s important early on even if you are not performing to the best of your ability, that you are grinding out results and getting some points and that will be no different this season,” he said.

The Mariners boss also praised the Club for its exclusive Member pre-sale period for the highly anticipated Hyundai A-League Grand Final replay with Tony Popovic-s men, which will be launched this Friday.

“The Club has come up with a great initiative for our Members. They will get an opportunity to buy four tickets per Member to try to sell out the stadium. This is a great chance for our supporters to get in first and hopefully buy most of the tickets. It would be great to see a massive crowd at Bluetongue Stadium when we kick off,” Arnold concluded.

The yellow and navy will travel to South Australia later this week, as they take on Adelaide United in a pre-season friendly at Coopers Stadium on Thursday, before heading abroad to compete in the 2013 Menpora Cup in the Republic of Indonesia.