Central Coast Mariners’ young-gun Trent Buhagiar has bagged 11 goals in 15 games for the Academy side but he’s not the only one firing.
You only need to take a look at the highlights from their most recent 3-2 win to see: a clinical pass from Adam Berry; a precision finish by Trent Buhagiar; accurate cross by Lachlan Wales; thumping header from Ryan Peterson and a cracking volley from Cooper Buswell.
The Hyundai A-League squad returned for training this week and there are a number of Academy boys that have been called up to train alongside the first team.
With the likes of Berry, Buhagiar and Tom Heward-Belle having already earned their maiden professional contracts for the upcoming season there’s no doubt the Academy pathway is playing a crucial role to their development and ensuring regular game time for the young lads.
It was always going to be a tough challenge for the youthful Central Coast Mariners’ outfit to mix it in the NSW NPL 2 against experienced campaigners but there are plenty of shining lights to come from the season so far.
Central Coast Mariners Academy Head Coach, Ben Cahn was happy with the result away from home at the weekend and re-iterated the importance of the Academy pathway for Hyundai A-League clubs.
“I’m really proud, it was an excellent win,” Cahn said. “We tried some new things system wise and Macarthur are a good side so to go down there and really outplay them to come away with three points is excellent.
“We’ve got a lot of talent and the league position doesn’t necessarily reflect what we have in terms of players coming through, we have been slightly naïve in defence but we are working very hard to improve the players game management and match awareness. There are a lot of individuals in there that I look at and think they’ve got a chance to go on and play A-League football.
“The biggest goals are to get as many players exposed to the first team environment as possible but at the same time as that it would be nice to secure some points, we’re only two points of fourth so it would be a nice touch to play some finals football.
“With the A-League Clubs all having academies in NPLs across the country, it's one of the best moves that could have been made, it means that young players who would have normally moved into a first team set up after a few NYL games now have a season of 26 senior football matches under their belt,” Cahn said.
Cahn also praised the attitude and hard work of Buhagiar.
“Trent has come on a long long way in the five months that I’ve known him, there were a lot of deficiencies in his game that he has worked long and hard to improve and you can see it,” Cahn said. “He’s not just scoring goals but he’s winning a lot of ball back, he’s a threat when we don’t have the ball because he’s so quick.
“He’s also becoming more intelligent and more aware and they are all things he needs to keep working on but there’s been a really evident improvement,” Cahn said.
The Central Coast Mariners Academy are away from home his weekend against the Bankstown Berries.