Mariners discover 2012/13 season draw

CENTRAL Coast Mariners will commence their Hyundai A-League Premiership defence away to the league’s new boys, Western Sydney, on Saturday 6 October.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners will commence their Hyundai A-League Premiership defence away to the league-s new boys, Western Sydney, on Saturday 6 October.

In what is set to be a blockbuster opening round in Australia-s top flight of football, Graham Arnold-s stable and strong squad will meet Tony Popovic-s freshly acquired outfit in an historic Hyundai A-League clash.

Indeed, the fixture will undoubtedly capture the focus of fans and media alike, with former Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Qantas Socceroos teammates Arnold and Popovic pitting wits in a bid to get their team-s campaign off to a winning start.

“It-s the third year I-ve been here and it-s the second time we-ve come up against a new Club in the opening round of the season,” Arnold said. “It should be an exciting occasion for us to be involved in.”

“It-s going to be interesting to be up against Tony (Popovic). He-s a great mate of mine.”

Indeed, Mariners fans possess the unique opportunity to witness their team in action three weeks in a row without having to venture inter-state or overseas, with Arnold-s men playing their second game of the season at home to Perth Glory on Sunday 14 October. Central Coast will back that match up with a short trip north to Hunter Stadium on Saturday 20 October, where they will face Newcastle Jets in the first F3 Derby of the season.

Having been eliminated by Ian Ferguson-s team on penalties in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series in season seven, Arnold noted “there will be that little bit of revenge on the mind” of his players when his side clash with the purple-whites in front of the yellow and navy faithful.

Arnold also expects Newcastle to be a much tougher proposition than last season under the guidance of a Gary van Egmond signed squad.

“Gary (van Egmond) has built his own squad now and he-s had time to bring his own players in,” he said. “It should be a fantastic occasion so early in the season with us playing up there (and) hopefully there will be a good crowd there from both ends.”

Overall, the Mariners will play 13 home matches in season eight of the Hyundai A-League, with the Club retaining its annual New Year-s Eve fixture.

And, supporters of the Club will be busy visiting Bluetongue Stadium in the first few months of 2013, with seven of the team-s last 11 matches being played at Gosford-s idyllic bayside arena.

With the Mariners also participating in the 2013 AFC Champions League, Football Federation Australia (FFA) have worked with the Club to reduce the travelling demands put on players competiting both domestically and in Asia-s premier club competition.

Central Coast Mariners 2012/2013 Hyundai A-League Draw Summary and Highlights • Central Coast Mariners to begin Hyundai A-League season eight away to Western Sydney • First home match against 2011/12 Hyundai A-League Finals Series foes Perth Glory on Sunday 14 October (kick-off 5pm) • Mariners to challenge Perth Glory on New Year-s Eve at Bluetongue Stadium (kick-off 6:00pm) • Seven of Central Coast-s last 11 2012/13 Hyundai A-League matches to be played in Gosford to assist the Club-s prospects in the 2013 AFC Champions League

CLICK HERE to see the fixtures.