Okon: Intensity is key against Phoenix

Saturday marks Paul Okon’s first test against a Hyundai A-League opponent and the Mariners Head Coach won’t shy away from the Wellington Phoenix at Knox Grammar.

Central Coast Mariners supporters can head south on the M1 to Knox Grammar that’s just 45 minutes from the club’s training base to see Okon’s new look Mariners in action for the first time.

Okon, who has been at the helm of the Yellow & Navy for almost three weeks spoke to media today after training and noted that keeping a high intensity on the pitch will be one of the main priorities.

“Tomorrow we want to maintain our intensity for as long as possible and perform like we know we can,” Okon said. “We want to make sure that there is competition for spots in the team, every day is an examination for us, for the players, every session we want to see an improvement.

“We will push the players as hard as possible so at the end, they will improve individually as players and that means we will have a stronger football team,” Okon said.

Last Saturday the team was scheduled to face Brisbane Roar before the fixture was washed out which forced Okon and his coaching staff to alter the training schedule.  

“After the disappointment of last Saturday’s washed out game, the week has been changed around to substitute missing the game,” Okon said. “The boys are looking quite fresh and tomorrow’s going to be a step in the direction we want to be going.

“We’re not really looking at the opposition or how they’re setting up, it’s about gaining an indication of where we are doing well, and seeing that in a game.

“You always need a starting point and we hoped that it was going to be against Brisbane last week, we saw a little glimpse in Canberra so this week will be a good test,” Okon said.

After the return of Storm Roux and Jake Adelson in Canberra, Fabio Ferreira is showing good signs ahead of Saturday’s clash, Okon welcomes the selection headaches

“Everyone’s fit, Fab Ferreira is back after a 3 to 4-week layoff so we’re nearly doubled up in every position which is ideal and every coach loves to have those options.

“Tomorrow we want to build on our combinations, we want to see the football that we have been asking them to play.

“Hopefully the players are gaining a better understanding of the style day after day, we want to play football with a certain intensity so fitness is very important and lastly we don’t want any injuries which is very very important,” Okon said.