It all comes down to this
Almost five months after taking the reins at the Mariners, albeit unofficially back then, Graham Arnold is finally gearing his new-look side for a maiden competitive hit-out, as they finalize their preparations for tomorrow’s Hyundai A-League season six opening night blockbuster against Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park.
Almost five months after taking the reins at the Mariners, albeit unofficially back then, Graham Arnold is finally gearing his new-look side for a maiden competitive hit-out, as they finalize their preparations for tomorrow-s Hyundai A-League season six opening night blockbuster against Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park.
Not that it phases the former Qantas Socceroos assistant coach, who has been in the dugout, and indeed on the pitch, for some of the most significant moments in Australian football history.
"It-s another game of football," said Arnold.
"I-ve been involved in some massive games of football over the last ten years. Nothing gets bigger than playing Uruguay at home and being 1-nil down and then going into a penalty shootout, and World Cup games and Olympic Games.
"I-ve been involved in many big games so for me this is a new start to another chapter in my career, it-s one that I-m looking forward to and it-s great to be back in club land and working with a great bunch of players."
The Mariners go into the opening game of the new campaign on the back of another highly successful Pre-Season campaign, which saw them undefeated through ten highly arduous trial match encounters.
"The boys have worked extremely hard," said Arnold.
"We-ve done a lot of work off the field, setting up the new training facility at Tuggerah and getting a lot of stability off the field for the players. On the field we have changed a lot tactically and done a lot of work, so yeah, I-m very happy with where we are at.
"We-re in a position where we don-t have the luxury of other clubs with Marquee players, foreign as well as Australian, but we work within the restraints of the club, and that-s why the club is a healthy and stable club, and has a great culture on the Coast. I knew that before I came here, and we-re up for the challenge every week," said Arnold.
While the Central Coast mentor is supremely confident of having his own backyard in order as they head into the clash with the competition-s newest club, he admits it has been tough to gauge where the Heart are in their preparations, especially given the likely absence of talisman John Aloisi, and the injury cloud hanging over Australian marquee Josip Skoko.
"It-s a bit of a guessing game the first game," said Arnold.
"Melbourne Heart haven-t played too many games of late. We saw them play against Everton and Newcastle but since then they have only played two amateur teams behind closed doors so it-s pretty hard to gauge where they are at at the moment, but I prefer to worry about ourselves than the opposition. If we-re physically, tactically and mentally right, then everything should be fine."
A large contingency of travelling fans is expected at Melbourne-s new rectangular stadium, and Arnold says their support, both on the road, and throughout the season at Bluetongue Stadium, will be crucial to the team-s on field success.
"It will be great to see plenty of Yellow down there tomorrow night, having experienced the big occasions with the national team I-m fully aware of how important the fans are in getting a team over the line, so lets hope they are loud, and that we can celebrate getting the three points with them," Arnold said.
For any Mariners Members unable to make the trip down, they will be able to catch all the action live on the big screen at a special Members “Live Site” at Club Tuggerah, 1 Bryant Drive, Tuggerah.
Kick-off is at 7:30pm and non-travelling members of the Mariners squad will be on hand to watch the match, giving Members a great chance to discuss tactics with Mariners first team players. Children are welcome to attend.
Thursday, 5 August, 2010 Melbourne Heart v Central Coast Mariners AAMI Park, Melbourne Local kick-off: 7.30pm AEST
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 3, FS3 HD & delayed on Sky Sports 1. Hyundai A-League club broadcast partner is 774 ABC (Melbourne), SEN Digital and 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford). To purchase tickets visit www.ticketek.com.au
Melbourne Heart squad: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 2. Michael MARRONE, 3. Brendan HAMILL, 4. Simon COLOSIMO (c), 5. Michael BEAUCHAMP, 6. Matthew THOMPSON, 7. Rutger WORM, 9. Gerald SIBON, 10. Wayne SRHOJ, 11. ALEX TERRA, 17. Jason HOFFMAN, 19. Eli BABALJ, 20. Josip SKOKO, 21. Kliment TASESKI, 22. Nick KALMAR, 23. Dean HEFFERNAN, 24. Aziz BEHICH, 20.Peter ZOIS *three to be omitted*
Unavailable: John ALOISI (Hamstring - 4 weeks), Kristian SARKIES (Leg - Indefinite), 14.Kamal IBRAHIM (not selected), 18.Ante TOMIC (not selected)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1. Jess VANSTRATTAN (gk), 2 Daniel MCBREEN, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 9. Nik MRDJA, 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 23. Adam KWASNIK.? *one to be omitted*
Unavailable: 3. Joshua ROSE (ineligible), 15. Marc WARREN, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Chris DOIG, 21. Sam GALLAGHER, 22. Mustafa AMINI (not selected)