Central Coast Mariners’ 2013 Menpora Cup campaign came to a controversial conclusion on Sunday, with the team on the end of two highly contentious penalty calls and countless other suspect refereeing decisions as they lost 2-1 to Arema FC in the competition’s Final.
Central Coast Mariners- 2013 Menpora Cup campaign came to a controversial conclusion on Sunday, with the team on the end of two highly contentious penalty calls and countless other suspect refereeing decisions as they lost 2-1 to Arema FC in the competition-s Final.
St. Kitts & Nevis attacker Keith Kayamba Gumbs converted both dubiously awarded penalties to lift the popular local side to victory in front of 38,438 vociferous supporters at Kanjuruhan Stadion.
Marcos Flores produced a moment of magic just before half time to level proceedings shortly after Gumbs scored his first penalty of the night, however with the weight of the refereeing decisions clearly favouring the Indonesian Super League side, Central Coast Assistant Coach Phil Moss said it was obvious any chance of a Mariners victory would have to come against all odds.
“It is clear that only one side was meant to win tonight-s Final - and it most certainly wasn-t us,” Moss said. “We have had a great time in Indonesia - the tournament has been well organised and the Indonesian people have been very friendly - but unfortunately the nature of the referee-s performance tonight leaves us with a sour taste in our mouths.”
“Many of the Arema players and staff felt compelled to apologise to our boys after the game, so that should give people some indication of what-s gone on tonight.”
Arema FC, like Central Coast, had opportunities to score on their own merit in the first 45 before referee Oki Dwi Putra Senjaya began to leave his impression on the 2013 Menpora Cup Final.
In the 41st minute, John Hutchinson won the ball with a sliding challenge inside the box, however was adjudged to have felled his Arema opponent. Gumbs subsequently stroked his chance from 12-yards into the back of the net.
The fleet footed Flores equalised for Central Coast in the 45th minute when he danced through the Arema backline before sliding a shot beyond custodian Ahmad Kurniawan.
However referee Senjaya gave Arema another gift ten minutes after the break when he ruled that Mariners skipper Hutchinson had handled the ball in the box. Gumbs held his nerve to convert his second spot kick of the night.
Despite having only 11 players available for the Final - Zac Anderson was a late withdrawal for the contest due to a stomach bug - the Mariners continued to press until the conclusion of the match.
However Moss-s men became increasingly frustrated late on as play was suspiciously halted for innocuous looking injuries, and legitimate Central Coast attacking raids were called back for offside.
While the performance of referee Senjaya in the Final left a stain on the match, Moss said he was overjoyed with the performance and mental strength of the players in extremely trying circumstances.
“There were so many positives to come out of tonight, none more so than the fact it was perfect preparation for the Western Sydney Wanderers game as it was played at such a high intensity.”
“We didn-t have a bad player out there tonight - from young Tommy Slater who at 17 was not overawed by the occasion, to Marcos Flores who was outstanding and continues to understand more and more our structures and patterns of play. He is so important to the way we want to play.”
Moss added that overall the tournament had been a positive experience for the Club.
“We-ve played some real high quality games with short turnarounds between the matches and in front of some very hostile crowds,” he said. “Every player in the squad has got the game time required to be fit and ready to push for selection for round one against Western Sydney Wanderers on October 12.”
“I-m delighted - as I know Arnie is - with the attitude and the performance on and off the field of all of our players over the past two weeks. This camp in Indonesia has given ‘Arnie- (Graham Arnold) and the staff a chance to get a lot of invaluable work done in our preparations for the Hyundai A-League season.”
Central Coast Mariners will depart Indonesia on Monday 30 September and recommence training in Tuggerah ahead of Hyundai A-League 2013/14 season on Thursday 3 October.
Central Coast Mariners 1 (Flores 45-) Arema FC 2 (Gumbs 43- (pen), 56- (pen)) Stadion Kanjuruhan, Malang, Indonesia
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Justin Pasfield (Gk), 3. Josh Rose, 7. John Hutchinson (C), 8. Nick Montgomery, 10. Marcos Flores, 11. Nick Fitzgerald, 15. Storm Roux, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 19. Matt Simon, 21. Mile Sterjovski, 22. Tom Slater Substitutes not used: 5. Zachary Anderson, 17. Andrew Clark Yellow cards: Montgomery, Sainsbury, Simon Red cards: Nil
Arema FC: 31. Ahmad Kurniawan (Gk), 32. Victor Igbonefo, 2. Purwaka Yudi, 6. Thiery Gatusi, 19. Benny Wahyudi, 44. I Gede Sukadana, 12. Hendro Siswanto, 40. Keith Kayamba Gumbs, 10. Christian Gonzales, 9. Beto Goncalves (8. Egi Melgiansyah 88-), 7. Greg Nwokolo Substitutes not used: 69. M. Natshir, 53. Munhar, 23. Gilang Ginarsa, 41. Dendy Santoso, 88. Irsad Maulana, 5. Edmar Garcia Yellow cards: Goncalves, Gonzalez, Nwokolo Red cards: Nil
Attendance: 38,438 Referee: Oki Dwi Putra Senjaya