Ahead of the Central Coast Mariners’ round 10 encounter with Melbourne City we caught up with Paul Okon who spoke about the tough selection decisions on the horizon.
After recording back-to-back wins with a 1-0 victory over Perth Glory at home, competition for places in the Yellow & Navy squad are as hot as ever with some big names returning.
Storm Roux, Josh Rose & Asdrubal have all returned from injuries to commence full training with the team and the latter two have both been named as prospective inclusions for Sunday’s match against City.
But the Head Coach has praised the club culture at the Mariners which is only made stronger by competition for places in the starting 11.
In a battle between third placed City and the Mariners, it makes for a tantalising way to cap off round 10 of the Hyundai A-League.
The Mariners are red hot after wins over Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory respectively whilst Melbourne City are flying high after a 2-1 win over the Newcastle Jets away from home.
City will be without one of last week’s goal scorers, Manny Muscat who will serve a one match suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards whilst attackers Marcelo Carrusca & Bruno Fornaroli still unavailable through injury.
One man to look out for is City’s free-kick specialist, Ross McCormack who is the only player in the league to have scored more than one dead ball this season with three to his name.
Paolo in the press
“We expect it to be a really tough game,” Okon said. “Melbourne City’s got a great roster, some really dangerous players in the final third. Like every week we are going to need to put in a really good performance and try to be mistake free and deal with certain moments in the game and we feel if we can manage that, we will give ourselves a chance of getting some points.
“[looking at goals vs. Wanderers & Perth] shows how far Daniel De Silva had to run after initiating the move and I think we have come to expect that from Daniel. He is certainly very capable of that and a lot of people do talk about what he does when he has the ball, but he starts our press and he works ever so hard. When he has the ball, he’s exciting and then he’s prepared to work for the team when he doesn't have it so if Daniel can keep that up I am sure that's going to bring us more wins.
“Everyone’s delighted with back to back wins, in any football club that's going to bring confidence, it’s going to shed a different light. We have had some rough times here, a couple years so, I think everyone is embracing what we are trying to do and we have a really good squad and the players are working hard. Tough decisions have to be made of who starts and who doesn't play, but we are very much a team, a squad and you see in the last two games players that have come from the bench into the field have really contributed.
“They do say to see the strength of a team, you have to look at the bench and we feel that our bench is very strong, whoever is not starting. We have a real fit and healthy team at the moment everyone is back, so tough decisions need to be made.”
“We have some real depth in that attacking third so if its Asdrubal that starts, great, if it’s Kabsy that starts, if its Powelly that starts, we are confident that any one of those three will be able to do the job.
“We don't really pay attention to the ladder, so we’re not really looking where Melbourne City are sitting whether its third, whether they’re ninth or tenth. We just play what we see in front of us and it's a strong team so we are looking forward to the game, it’s the last team we haven’t played, so we are excited to match up against Melbourne City,” Okon said.
Opta Stat Attack
- Melbourne City are winless in their last three games at AAMI Park (D1, L2), the last time they went longer without a win there was a seven-game stretch from March to November 2014 (D3, L4).
- The Mariners are undefeated in their last three games played on a Sunday (W1, D2), though there have been just three goals scored in total across those fixtures.
- Ben Kennedy has the highest save percentage of any goalkeeper to record 10+ saves this season (82.4%).
- The Mariners have a passing accuracy of 80% when playing away from home this campaign, greater than any other team in the competition.
- Ross McCormack has recorded seven shots on target from outside the box this campaign, more than any other player.
- In fact, McCormack has scored three direct free-kick goals this campaign; no other player has managed more than one.
Melbourne City FC Squad: 1.Dean BOUZANIS (gk), 3.Scott JAMIESON, 5.Bart SCHENKEVELD, 6.Osama MALIK, 7.Nick FITZGERALD, 8.Neil KILKENNY, 11.Bruce KAMAU, 12.Braedyn CROWLEY, 13.Stefan MAUK, 14.Daniel ARZANI, 18.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 22.Michael JAKOBSEN, 25.Iacopo LA ROCCA, 26.Luke BRATTAN, 27.Marcin BUDZINSKI, 35.Ramy NAJJARINE, 44.Ross McCORMACK
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 6.Osama MALIK (returns from suspension), 12.Braedyn CROWLEY (promoted), 35.Ramy NAJJARINE (promoted), 8.Neil KILKENNY (promoted)
Outs: 2.Manny MUSCAT (suspended (yellow card accumulation) - 1 week), 17.Tim CAHILL (released - mutual termination)
Unavailable: 23.Bruno FORNAROLI (ankle), 9.Marcelo CARRUSCA (calf), 2187.FINN (Coma – 1 week)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jake McGING, 5.Antony GOLEC, 6.Tom HIARIEJ, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Blake POWELL, 9.ASDRUBAL, 10.Daniel De SILVA, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 14.Adam BERRY, 15.Alan BARO (c), 16. Liam ROSE, 18.Tom GLOVER (gk), 21.Kye ROWLES, 23.Wout BRAMA
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 3.Josh ROSE (return from injury), 9.ASDRUBAL (return from injury)
Unavailable: 900.Yoda (Back - indefinite)
Sunday, 10 December 2017
Hyundai A-League Round 10
Match: Melbourne City vs. Central Coast Mariners
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 7:00pm (AEDT)
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS AUSTRALIA
Hash-tag: Join the match conversation using #MCYvCCM & #CCMFC