The Moss Pit is back!

MARINERS Assistant Coach Phil Moss takes fans inside the coaches' inner sanctum in his weekly column. The Moss Pit is back!

A NEW captain, new faces, a new strip, new major sponsor, new training complex, new opposition and a new challenge!

That is what we take into Season Eight of the Hyundai A-League when we make the trek down the F3 to take on competition newcomers Western Sydney Wanderers tomorrow night.

Let-s work back to front on what-s new this season.

The new challenge is to build further on the past two seasons with the Premier-s Plate, the AFC Champions League and the finals series to play for again!

Nothing is won in pre-season but I have to say the players have been fantastic and responded to everything coach Graham Arnold has thrown at them.

‘Arnie-s- pre-season mantra was to “re-challenge” the players and his staff and everyone has taken ownership of that and run with it.

The new opposition arrives straight away with us taking on WSW in an historic opening round of the new season - and the fledgling club-s life - at Parramatta Stadium tomorrow night.

Expansion into the western Sydney region has been high on the FFA-s agenda for some time now and the league awaits with great anticipation to see what the new club can deliver in season one.

Of course we will be hell-bent on raining on their parade with a strong start to the season top of our priority list.

The new training complex - the Mariners- Centre of Excellence - has been a Godsend this pre-season. Full credit must go to our visionary Chairman Mr Peter Turnbull, who has turned the dream into a reality.

It truly is a fantastic work environment - on a par with many clubs throughout Europe now - and the players and staff have really lifted as a result. After one-and-a-half seasons on half a pitch, the luxury of a full training field has enabled us to work much more efficiently and effectively throughout pre-season.

Apart from the two training pitches and the adjacent Soccer5s complex, the football offices, dressing rooms and gymnasium have ensured we have a training base the envy of all A-League clubs.

The squad has looked very sharp both on the balls and in the new Kappa training kit. No doubt the new playing strips will look just as good when the boys run out tomorrow night! And, in a massive boost for the club, Masterfoods have come on board this week as our new major sponsor. We are delighted and proud to have a major employer in the Central Coast region emblazoned on our kits.

The new players in the squad - Mile Sterjovski, Zac Anderson, Nick Montgomery and Brent Griffiths - have gelled very quickly on and off the field and adapted well to the tactical information during sessions on the pitch and in the video room.

Last but by no means least, foundation player John Hutchinson will proudly lead the boys into battle tomorrow night after being handed the captain-s armband this season to replace the departed Alex Wilkinson.

‘Hutch- accepted the honour by declaring it was the easiest football team to skipper owing to the number of leaders around him. Nonetheless, it-s a fitting reward for a loyal player who gives his all to the Mariner-s cause both on and off the field!

Kick-off tomorrow night at Parramatta Stadium is 7.45pm.