Cahn: The ball is in our court

THIS SATURDAY our Mariners Foxtel National Youth League team host Sydney FC and the winner will be rewarded with a Grand Final berth.

Kick-off at the Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence is 4:00pm and entry is FREE for our last league match of the Foxtel National Youth League campaign.

If the Mariners win, their Grand Final will be played at Central Coast Stadium as a curtain raiser to our next home match on Saturday January 28. 

With Sydney FC Youth defeating Newcastle Jets Youth on Sunday, the Mariners Youth MUST take all three points against Sydney to secure their spot in the competition’s Grand Final against Melbourne City Youth who finished first in Conference A.

The Mariners Youth Team returned to training this morning and despite the excitement that looms for this Saturday, Head Coach Ben Cahn stressed the importance of not getting carried away with such a big occasion.

“The magnitude of this weekend’s match is something that we will recognise but we’ve made it very clear to the players today that it’s a normal week and nothing changes in our processes,” Cahn said. “We feel good going into it, we were good against Sydney last time and we’ve been very good now for six of our seven games so we don’t see the need to change too much.

The most pleasing aspect for Cahn and his team is that their progression through to a Grand Final is in their own hands. If they win, they qualify for the Grand Final, it’s as simple as that.

“Watching the results of the Sydney v Newcastle game yesterday was agonising and had that result not gone that way and we would have had to not only beat Sydney and rely on FFA COE to beat Newcastle, that would have been an uncomfortable place to be,” Cahn said. “So the fact that it is completely in our control is very pleasing and makes the week and planning a lot easier,” Cahn said.

Leading into an important week, Cahn said that the influence of his senior players is crucial to steady the ship but the excitement around Saturday is to be expected.  

“Even the older boys who have been in and out of the NYL for three or four years are saying there’s a buzz around that they haven’t had before and a real excitement,” Cahn said. “But again, the message from us today is business as usual.

“Steve Whyte, Reece Papadimitrios and Lachie Wales are three very important players for us,” Cahn said. “They were equally as excited when that result came in yesterday but today at training they showed good professionalism and hopefully Whytey, as our Captain especially, will bring some calm to the group.

Injuries are a big part of football but incredibly, the Mariners Foxtel National Youth League team have not been hindered by unavailability and Cahn thanked his staff as well as the morale of the playing group for their unwavering support.

“We have to give credit to the medical and sports science department of the NYL group because we’ve had our full squad available for every fixture,” Cahn said. “We haven’t had one player injured this season – the boys who go on and play have always had the support of the ones who are out.

“Often you find in a team that the ones who aren’t playing can often become quite poisonous but that hasn’t happened here. This week and hopefully the week after everyone will want to play, so I’d imagine there will be some big tackles at training and some big conversations I’ll need to have," Cahn said. 

The Foxtel National Youth League model is designed to prepare players for the Hyundai A-League but Cahn says that winning big games is an important part of youth development.

“Development versus winning is a continuous debate in youth football around the world,” Cahn said. “I’m a firm believer that young players need to learn how to win games and if you look at our club that always gives young players a chance it’s imperative that they have experience in winning big games and knowing what it feels like to do that.

“Winning is definitely part of the development process as they get to the later stage of their development years,” Cahn said.

Playing at Tuggerah in front of our home supporters will also bolster the Mariners chances and Cahn is calling on all Mariners fans to turn up in numbers and get behind their team.  

“I hope we get some good support this Saturday,” Cahn said. “Our players were very pleased with the support we had for our last game against Wanderers and when it got a bit tough in the game they felt the home crowd backing them and had the respect of the fans. That can prove to be a really important factor so the more support we can get the more of a chance we will have of pulling something off,” Cahn said.

Match Details
Foxtel National Youth League 2016/17
Saturday 21 January 2017
Central Coast Mariners Youth vs. Sydney FC Youth
Venue: Central Coast Mariners Centre of Excellence, Tuggerah  
kick-off: 4:00pm (AEDT)
Official hash-tags: #CCMvSYD, #FNYL, #CCMFC
Tickets: ENTRY IS FREE!