Boogaard on the defence as Mariners aim to keep it clean

He’s scored nine goals in six Hyundai A-League matches so far this season, but Shane Smeltz will have his work cut out against the league’s most frugal defensive line thus far, according to Mariners’ central defender Nigel Boogaard.

He-s scored nine goals in six Hyundai A-League matches so far this season, but Shane Smeltz will have his work cut out against the league-s most frugal defensive line thus far, according to Mariners- central defender Nigel Boogaard.

"He-s one of the form strikers in the competition, he-s obviously shown that on the scoring chart. If I can prove myself against him, then I know I-m in good stead for the season, and if we can keep (Jason) Culina quiet as well, hopefully we can go a long way towards beating them," said Boogaard.

"I always wanted to get back into the middle and play centre half, and control that position there.

"I do enjoy that a lot more, the physical battle with the striker and things like that. It-s all going to plan at the moment, but I can-t rest on my laurels, I know I-ve still got a lot more to improve on and hopefully I-ll get there by the end of the season."

The Mariners have conceded just four goals in the opening six rounds of the league, and Boogaard is confident that defensive resilience can continue this Saturday, against a Gold Coast side, which has netted 14 times, making it the A-League-s most potent attacking force.

"The boys know the Gold Coast is probably the benchmark so far this season, and to knock them off would really show our intent for the season.

"The boys are pretty confident that there isn-t a team in the comp we can-t beat on our day, so it-s just a case of rectifying a few things that went wrong on the weekend and getting things going in the right direction again," Boogaard said.

With Mariners fans being given the opportunity to witness the likes of New Zealand All Whites striker Smeltz, along with Qantas Socceroos Jason Culina and Michael Thwaite for the first time, the Central Coast is one of only a handful of Hyundai A-League clubs to have been fortunate to have a look at a club many claim to be the competition-s benchmark in their debut season, having dominated a pre-season trial match at Skilled Park in July, which ended in a 2-all draw.

"In the pre-season game we played really well, it was probably one of the better pre-season games we played.

"We probably should have got more out of the game, but to know that we can compete like that against them is comforting to know, and the boys are going into this weekend very confident," said Boogaard.

Victory on Saturday night could prove hugely pivotal in the Central Coast-s 2009/10 campaign, with three points potentially sending them to within two points of the Gold Coast, and the competition lead.

"I think any team is there for the taking, and they have been a bit vulnerable over the last two weeks, on the weekend they just got away with a draw, so I think it-s a good time to be playing them.

"The boys are very confident we can do well against them, and if we can nullify a few of their key threats, then we-ll do alright," Boogaard said.

The match is hugely significant in the history of a club which debuted in the inaugural Hyundai A-League in 2005/06, signaling the Mariners 100th Hyundai A-League match, while Football Manager Lawrie McKinna becomes the first coach in the history of the competition to reach the landmark three figures.

"The league has come a long way, and the club has come a long way, and hopefully this weekend the crowd comes out and supports us, because it-s going to be a cracking game.

"I-ve been here since the start and Lawrie has shown faith in me. It-s good to have watched the club grow and the support gain, and hopefully that support is there for us again on Saturday night," said Boogaard.

The Mariners next home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be against Gold Coast United on Saturday, 19 September. Kick-off is at 7:30pm. Tickets for this match are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now available online by clicking here or by phoning 1300 767 442.