Nick Montgomery, Sergio Raimundo and the Mariners NPL2 squad will begin their title defence on Saturday when they take on Western Sydney Wanderers at Pluim Park.
In 2020 the squad blitzed the competition to win it all, claiming the NPL2 Premiership and Championship in both U/20’s and First Grade, but Montgomery said that that there will be no trouble motivating the squad to push for more success, and promotion to NPL1.
“I think the motivation for these boys is to see the likes of Alou Kuol, Max Balard, Dan Hall, Hatchy [Matt Hatch], [Louis] Khoury, all these boys who have pushed into the A-League ranks,” Montgomery said ahead of the season opener.
“I think you can’t get any motivation better than that which is to perform at youth level, and the opportunities are there at this club.”
We’ve had quite a few boys training with the A-League, which is fantastic, that’s what you gauge success on at youth development level" - Nick Montgomery
“For me, last season was last season, we put that to bed a long time ago, it’s always good to be successful but it’s gone now, it’s in the past, and we’ve got to look forward.”
“There’s a lot of changes in the NPL this year, top four go up to NPL 1, and even underneath at youth level there’s a lot of changes but we’ve just got to focus on ourselves, keep winning games and keep developing players.”
Squad turnover has made recruitment a large focus of Montgomery’s off-season and post-season work, with the afore mentioned players all making the step up to A-League level, while last year’s top scorer Matt Cahill is on loan to Southern District in the Hong Kong Premier League.
While the task of replacing those departed has not been an easy one amidst a COVID-impacted travel environment, Montgomery is confident that there are plenty waiting to step up in the wings.
“We’ve had quite a few boys training with the A-League, which is fantastic, that’s what you gauge success on at youth development level,” he said.
“So for us to have such a large percentage of last year’s first grade grand final winning team promoted into the A-League ranks is fantastic, it just means underneath we’re a little bit younger, we’ve had to promote boys up.”
“In terms of recruitment it’s been pretty hard, during COVID a lot of lockdowns in other states, so in terms of bringing boys down even on trial it was difficult. Recruitment wasn’t easy but everybody is the same, fortunately we’ve managed to get some bodies in and [we are] looking strong moving forward.”
Montgomery is looking forward to the task of taking on Wanderers, who cut their teeth in NPL 1 last season and will be coached by former Mariners teammate Patrick Zwaanswijk.
“Yeah a massive challenge,” he said of taking them on.
“Great club, great facilities, ex-teammate Patrick [Zwaanswijk] coaching them.”
“So I’m really looking forward to the game, they’ve got a lot of scholarship boys who will no doubt drop down and play depending on the A-league fixtures.”
Central Coast Mariners NPL Fixtures | Pluim Park, Saturday 6th March
1st Grade: Central Coast Mariners v WS Wanderers – 4pm
U/20’s: Central Coast Mariners v WS Wanderers – 2pm
U/18’s: Central Coast Mariners v Blacktown Spartans – 3pm
U/16’s: Central Coast Mariners v Blacktown Spartans – 1:20pm
U/15’s: Central Coast Mariners v Blacktown Spartans – 11:45am
U/14’s: Central Coast Mariners v Blacktown Spartans – 10:20am
U/13’s: Central Coast Mariners v Blacktown Spartans – 9am
2021 NPL2 First Grade Squad |
Gideon AROK, Max BALARD, James BAYLISS, Lachlan BAYLISS, Zenden HART, Michael KATSOULIS, Louis KHOURY, Sasha KUZEVSKI, Dean LARSON, Harry MCCARTHY, Reef MURFETT, Jing REECE, Jordan SMYLIE, Bradley TAPP, Damien TSEKENIS, Cameron WINDUST, Jacob VASSILOU
2021 NPL2 U/20’s Squad |
Zayne AWLUWALIA, William ARNOLD, Zac BARBATANO, Luke CORCORAN, Ben DUNCAN, Davin FATTORE, Josh HONG, Maksim KASALOVIC, Aidan MILICEVIC, Dylan NEWBOLD, Ezra PALOMBINI, Callum RICHARDS, Jarrod ROSS, Blair RYAN, Oliver STAUTNER, Alexander TRAJANOSKI, Caleb TROWBRIDGE, Zac WADDELL