Goalkeeper Mark Birighitti says the Mariners are playing with more confidence this season as the team prepares for a testing encounter with the Phoenix in Wollongong on Sunday afternoon.
Birighitti spoke to media on Friday morning as preparations continued for the second meeting with the Phoenix this season, and said the team will be aiming to bounce back from the loss to Wellington almost two weeks ago at home.
“That hurt,” he said of the late goal that gave Wellington the win.
“To concede three minutes before the end was disappointing and I thought we were the better team that day but didn’t get the three points.”
“We’ll be looking to bounce back against them, it will be a tough game, Wellington have a good squad, they’re playing good football and results aren’t going their way at the moment.”
“So we need to make sure we do everything right to go out there on Sunday and get all three points.”
With five wins from the first seven games including against both teams from last years Grand Final and second year club Western United, Birighitti believes the Mariners are no longer fearing their opposition and are approaching games with a greater degree of confidence.
“… All over the field everyone is contributing their part, and it’s just a good place to be at the moment,” he said.
“There’s a bit of belief in the group, everyone is upbeat and we’re going into games feeling a lot [more] confident, knowing that we’re going to win a game.”
“Whoever we come up against, we don’t feel scared or threatened, there’s confidence in the group that whoever we are playing we can win.”
The 29-year old, who was the Mariners Medalist last season, is part of the leadership group for the 20/21 campaign and said it has created some important changes in his game for the new season.
“Obviously, we sat down at the start of the season with the coaching staff and they penciled in what they wanted to get out of me this season and I needed to improve that role, being an older head in the group and being that real leader for the young kids,” he said.
“Not getting emotionally attached to the game, last season my emotions kind of took over and I couldn’t concentrate in pivotal moments of the game so I’ve done a lot of work on that but we’ve got a fantastic leadership group.”
“Ollie [Bozanic], big addition to the playing group, brings a lot of experience to the team, don’t have to say much about Simmo [Matt Simon], club legend and fantastic leader on and off the field.”
“And Rowlesy [Kye Rowles], he’s a young one coming through and this role that he’s got being part of the leadership group will help him grow as a player and as an individual as well.”
The Mariners will run through their final session on Saturday before travelling to Wollongong ahead of Sunday’s game, which will be the club’s maiden A-League fixture at WIN Stadium.