IT’S a youth policy that has yielded great results over the first season-and-a-half of Graham Arnold’s time in charge of the Central Coast Mariners. And it shows no signs of slowing.
IT-S a youth policy that has yielded great results over the first season-and-a-half of Graham Arnold-s time in charge of the Central Coast Mariners. And it shows no signs of slowing.
This week-s signing of Mitchell Duke, Jimmy Oates and Anthony Caceres is a fantastic sign for the club. It follows hot on the heels of the re-signing of Trent Sainsbury for another two years and the likes of Bernie Ibini-Isei, Brad McDonald and Sammy Gallagher are being spoken to by club officials about extending their stay at Bluetongue as you read this.
A lot of work has gone into these youngsters and their development has been recognised at national youth level with Sainsbury, Ibini-Isei, Gallagher and Mat Ryan - along with Mustafa Amini - all wearing the green and gold in the past 12 months. McDonald, too, has tasted it with his call-up to an Olyroos camp in Sydney where he impressed coach Aurelio Vidmar. And you can throw young Tommy Rogic into that mix too as I-m sure it will only be a matter of time before we see him realise his potential.
Ibini-Isei was in the same shoes as Duke, Oates and Caceres this time last year having won an A-League contract after leading the National Youth League goal-scoring charts. And, as his star continues to rise - and three more NYL players have been added to the senior squad for next season - it should signal to every young emerging talent in Australia that the Mariners is the place to be to get a go.
With the Centre of Excellence at Tuggerah well underway and a coaching staff prepared to back young players - with a healthy balance of experienced players who deserve a lot of credit for helping to bring the kids through - the Mariners is fast becoming the club of choice for the best youngsters.
With the first team sitting 11 points clear at the top of the table, the finals and ACL just around the corner and a brand new training field (as part of stage one of the Centre of Excellence development) set to be ready by early March, it-s an exciting time for everyone involved.
It-s back to business tonight when we tackle Miron Bleiberg-s unpredictable Gold Coast United on the Glitter Strip. Inclement weather has been lashing the Gold Coast this week so conditions I-m sure will play their part in the game. We have had a great week of preparation and the boys are champing at the bit for kick-off.
Central Coast Mariners Assistant Coach, Phil Moss, writes his column weekly for the Central Coast Express Advocate. CLICK HERE for all the latest football news from the Express Advocate's team of local journalists.