Paul Okon Preview: Victory vs. Mariners  

It’s set to be our busiest period of the season. We face three games in nine days and our next four games are against the top four teams! It all kicks off on Saturday against Melbourne Victory in Geelong.

To add to the challenge, the Mariners and Victory will be faced with testing conditions in Geelong that is set to reach scorching temperatures. Football Federation Australia have already taken this into consideration and shifted the game back from 5:30pm – 6:00pm.

The Mariners and Melbourne Victory have already faced each other once this season where a tight affair ended 1-1 at Central Coast Stadium. Connor Pain featured with an impressive goal against his former club in the second half that was almost immediately cancelled out by a pin point free-kick to Victory’s Leroy George.

Melbourne Victory have hit a superb run of form since their slow start to the season and have managed to string together three consecutive wins against Brisbane Roar, Melbourne City and the Newcastle Jets respectively.

In Yellow & Navy, the Mariners will be hungry for goals and three points after rounding out their 2017 with a clean sheet and a point against Wellington Phoenix from a 0-0 draw.

Without looking too far ahead, the Mariners will need to be smart with their sub’s in the testing Geelong conditions as they return home to play an immediate #F3Derby against Newcastle on Tuesday, followed by our next home game against Melbourne City the following Sunday.

Head Coach, Paul Okon said his side are prepared to take on a jam-packed-January.

Paolo in the Press

(Thoughts on three games in short succession…)
“It’s obviously tough with the shorter turn around but we knew at some stage in the season this was going to come, and it happens for most teams so we are confident we can deal with it, we have everyone available to select from, everyone’s fit and healthy.

“We are quite confident that right now, we can deal with a lot of games in short space of time. First and foremost, we’ve got a big game in a couple of days’ time against a team that’s really in red hot form. A big task but we’re confident. Round four against Victory at home we thought we probably edged it that day and maybe could have got three points. There is also the heat factor which will certainly come into consideration and make things just that little bit tougher.

“Like every game so far, this season that we’ve gone into, the mindset is, we genuinely believe that if we can perform we’re always a chance of winning.

(Thoughts on how a busy schedule impacts preparation…)

“We try not to look too far ahead but we’ve got two games in three days with travel and heat, we are looking at both games at the same time. We will probably have to rotate things around and freshen the squad up. They are two massive games. Right now, the focus is the first game which is Melbourne Victory but there is already a considerable amount of thought going into our second game which is three days later.

(Thoughts on new signing, Jacob Melling making his debut…)

“There is a big chance, that’s one of the reasons why we’ve brought him in. But everyone is going to have to play their part. We spoke about it before our last game against Wellington that with so many games in such a short space of time, everyone's probably going to get an opportunity. Not only Jacob but everyone needs to be ready, to prepare themselves as best as possible and hopefully everyone plays their part.

(Thoughts on finding the back of the net…)

“It hasn’t been a question of us not having opportunities to score and that’s probably been the most disappointing thing the past four games, is the fact that early on in the season, I think eight from nine games we were the team to score first. In the last four games the ball hasn’t gone in. Only we can change that. We know we need to be more ruthless in front of goal, to be better. It’s not too concerning because again we’re getting there and we’re getting there a lot, a number of occasions certainly into real dangerous areas. It’s a question of now having that sharpness to finish opportunities off and the quicker that happens obviously the better for us.

(Thoughts on the competitiveness of the A-League…)

“It says if you are consistent your position on the table will be higher and you’ll be able to maintain it. Melbourne Victory’s one of many examples of where a team has managed to put some good results together, find some form and consistency and then the ladder will speak for itself. We had that period where I think we went four games unbeaten and someone told me that we were in fourth spot at one stage. Last season we had three back to back wins and that saw us in and around that top six. I guess with a twenty-seven-game competition the teams that are more consistent are obviously going to first of all win football games or have more opportunity to in football games and be higher up the ladder. That is our aim.

(Thoughts on Victory’s new signings…)

“They lose Thomas Deng through Olyroo commitments and Rhys Williams is suspended but one thing that we’ve done all season is not look too much into the way the results of a team’s been, their position on the ladder or who’s missing, who’s suspended, who’s available. We know Melbourne Victory, whichever team they put out is going to be a team that can win football games. We’re preparing, not to play against any one particular player, it’s to play against Melbourne Victory who are one of the best teams in the competition.

Opta Stat Attack

  • This will be the fourth A-League game played at GHMBA Stadium, with Melbourne Victory picking up a win, draw, and loss across the three previous fixtures.
  • There have been 15 goals scored in the previous three fixtures at GHMBA Stadium, include six goals in each of the last two.
  • Melbourne Victory have both contested (273) and won (172) more tackles than any other team this campaign.
  • The Mariners have a passing accuracy of 81% when playing away from home this campaign, the best of any team.
  • Leroy George has provided seven assists this campaign, two more than any other player.
  • Ben Kennedy has a save percentage of 79% this campaign, the best of any goalkeeper to have played more than one game this season.

Melbourne Victory Squad: 1.Matt ACTON (Gk), 2.Jason GERIA, 3.Dino DJULBIC, 5.Mark MILLIGAN, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.James TROISI, 16.Josh HOPE, 18.Matias SANCHEZ, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 21.Carl VALERI (c), 22.Stefan NIGRO, 23.Jai INGHAM, 31.Christian THEOHAROUS, 41.Leroy GEORGE

Ins: 3.Dino DJULBIC (new signing), 6.Leigh BROXHAM (returns from injury)

Outs: 4.Rhys WILLIAMS (suspended – 1 week), 14.Thomas DENG (international duty)

Unavailable: 11.Mitch AUSTIN (knee), 17.James DONACHIE (quad)

Central Coast Mariners Squad: 1.Ben KENNEDY (Gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jake McGING, 5.Antony GOLEC, 6.Tom HIARIEJ, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Blake POWELL, 9.ASDRUBAL,, 11.Connor PAIN, 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 15.Alan BARO (c), 16.Liam ROSE, 20.Adam PEARCE (Gk), 21.Kye ROWLES, 22.Jacob MELLING, 23.Wout BRAMA, 24.Lachlan WALES
**two to be omitted**

 Ins: 3.Josh ROSE (promoted), 20.Adam PEARCE (Gk) (promoted), 22.Jacob MELLING (new signing), 24.Lachlan WALES (promoted)

Outs: 10.Daniel De SILVA (international duty), 18.Tom GLOVER (Gk) (international duty)

Unavailable: 12.Trent BUHAGIAR (international duty)

Match Details
Saturday, 6 January 2018
Hyundai A-League Round 14
Match: Melbourne Victory vs. Central Coast Mariners
Venue: GMHBA Stadium, Geelong
Kick-off: 6:00pm (AEDT)
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS AUSTRALIA 501
Hash-tag: Join the match conversation using #MVCvCCM & #CCMFC