Despite being a man down against Melbourne City the Central Coast Mariners fought until the final moment of Sunday’s match and Assistant Coach Ivan Jolic says its due to the incredible team spirit and camaraderie.
Paul Izzo was today named the February nominee for the NAB Young Footballer of the Year Award but will miss Friday’s clash against Sydney FC through suspension.
With a short turnaround this week, Ivan Necevski and Adam Pearce have just three training sessions to compete for a starting berth at Allianz Stadium.
“Both Ivan [Necevski] and Pearcey [Adam Pearce] will be putting their hand up for Friday’s match. Ivan’s been a bit stiff to not have more game time and Pearcey has been chomping at their heels all season so it will make for a very interesting week.
“We had a good chat to all of the boys at the start of the season and set goals – one of the things that Paul [Izzo] discussed was that he really wanted to have a positive season and bounce back from what was a disappointing season that he and the team had last year. Full credit to him, he took a fair pounding last season and for a young boy I’m proud of him that he has dug himself out and he is a tremendous shot stopper. He will be missed this Friday but it gives someone else a great opportunity,” Jolic said.
Sydney have lost just one match this season and have proved a tough team to break down but Jolic insists that the Yellow & Navy are full of confidence heading into Hyundai A-League round 23 – with fond memories of the two sides last encounter at Central Coast Stadium where the Mariners became the only team to strike twice against the Sky Blues.
“Sydney have had a great season but we’ve got our game plan like we’ve got every week and we will just look to execute that as well as we possibly can,” Jolic said. “One thing we’ve proven to the football community this season is that when we execute our game plan we are well up to these teams.
“They are very experienced and very disciplined. In the top half of the pitch they’ve got some players who are individually brilliant and when you’ve got very good players who can create and score goals from nothing, coupled with a resolute defence and structure it’s very difficult to beat them,” Jolic said.
The Mariners are the only team to score a second half goal against Sydney FC in 2017, having scored two against them on January 8 and Jolic says that their big performances against top teams in the competition can be aligned with the players’ never say die attitude.
“We should have beaten Melbourne City over the weekend, we should have beaten Sydney the last time we played them. We have improved since the last time we played them and we are really looking forward to this challenge with an energised group of players,” Jolic said.
“The one thing that I’ve noticed since coming to this football club is the spirit and the team culture within the four walls of that dressing room – it’s amazing,” Jolic said. “The never say die attitude is really instilled into the group which is credit to the leadership group and the staff because this is a really enjoyable environment for us all to work,” Jolic said.
With a young team comes inexperience but Jolic spoke positively about the growth of the young players within the Mariners squad.
“It’s a touch of inexperience that comes with young players that has let us down this season,” Jolic said. “Ultimately we would like to think that we are improving each week and it’s great to see the boys grow.
“Liam Rose in particular has grown as a defender. Six weeks ago, he was battling in certain situations but on the weekend, I felt even though Bruno [Fornaroli] walked away with two goals that were both set pieces he didn’t have a shot on target and that’s full credit to someone like Liam Rose so we will continue to look at that growth that we have within our group and in particular our younger players – hopefully that will be enough to earn us a result away from home,” Jolic said.
Hyundai A-League 2016/17 – Round 23
Friday 10 March 2017
Sydney FC vs. Central Coast Mariners
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Official hash-tags: #SYDvCCM & #CCMFC
TV Broadcast: Fox Sports 505 & SBS VICELAND
Radio Broadcast: 96.3 Coast FM & 92.5 ABC Central Coast