This Sunday the Central Coast Mariners host Melbourne City at Central Coast Stadium and we caught up with Head Coach, Paul Okon ahead of the crucial clash.
The last time Melbourne City travelled to Central Coast Stadium was New Year’s Eve in a fixture that provided fireworks both on and off the pitch.
In a match that included a trademark Tim Cahill header; a Trent Buhagiar equaliser; a Roy O’Donovan strike and a heartrenching penalty from Bruno Fornaroli, the fans were treated to a four-goal thriller.
This time around the Mariners will fancy their chances against a City side that have lacked consistency this season - and only have one win from nine visits to Gosford (D2, L6).
Michael Valkanis’ side will be hoping to reprise the fluency in attack they showed on the road against the Phoenix a fortnight ago after they were given a reality check by the Sky Blues last weekend.
That 3-1 loss has the Westfield FFA Cup winners in danger of missing out on a top four finish but they’ll no doubt benefit from having a nine-day break.
Paolo in the press
“We’re looking forward to this game,” Okon said. “This is a big challenge for us, we’ve had two very good performances against Melbourne City this season and we hope to replicate that on Sunday.
“Confidence, strangely, has never been an issue even when we put together a number disappointing results we’ve always had belief. But certainly, having everyone available makes it easier in terms of selecting a team. Competition for places is what everyone wants and we have that.
“Blake Powell has put his hand up for selection,” Okon said. “Last week he was underdone a little bit in terms of work but he’s now had a full week of training – we haven’t made a definite decision for the squad on Sunday but we’re delighted to have him back.
“Our focus is not on finals football. We’re not fools, we know that if we can string together a series of wins which we did in the month of February it brings you closer to that bunch of teams that are vying for the top six so Sunday is not about getting into the top six, it’s about performing against one of the best teams in the country. If we win, we move up the ladder it’s as simple as that.
“As a player you want to be playing against those type of players [Cahill & Fornaroli]. It always made me try harder and perform better so that’s what we’ve seen this season and hopefully we see that on Sunday.
“Once you get to this part of the season it becomes like that [every game is a final] I actually enjoy that, it means there’s a little bit more pressure but we expect our players to deal with that and we feel that in these situations that if we can respond in a positive way it will help our players to grow,” Okon said.
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 6.Blake POWELL, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 14.Adam BERRY, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Josh BINGHAM, 20.Paul IZZO (gk), 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 6.Blake POWELL (return from injury), 21.Michael NEILL (promoted)
Unavailable: 10.Mickael TAVARES (ankle – indefinite), 23.Jake ADELSON (ACL – indefinite)
Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Thomas SORENSEN (gk), 3.Josh ROSE, 5.Ivan FRANJIC, 6.Osama MALIK, 8.Neil KILKENNY, 9.Nicolas COLAZO, 10.Anthony CACERES, 11.Bruce KAMAU, 12.Nick FITZGERALD, 17.Tim CAHILL, 18.Paulo RETRE, 21.Ruon TONGYIK, 22.Michael JAKOBSEN, 23.Bruno FORNAROLI, 26.Luke BRATTAN, 27.Fernando BRANDAN, 34.Denis GENREAU, 40.Yaren SOZER (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 9.Nicolas COLAZO (promoted), 22.Michael JAKOBSEN (returns from injury), 34.Denis GENREAU (promoted)
Outs: 2.Manny MUSCAT (suspended – 1 match)
Unavailable: 7.Corey GAMEIRO (ACL – season), 20.Dean BOUZANIS (gk) (suspended – 2 matches), 28.Steve KUZMANOVSKI (ACL – season)
Hyundai A-League 2016/17 – Round 22
Sunday 5 March 2017
Central Coast Mariners vs. Melbourne City
Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
kick-off: 5:00pm (AEDT)
Official hash-tags: #CCMvMCY & #CCMFC
TV Broadcast: Fox Sports 505
Radio Broadcast: 96.3 Coast FM & 92.5 ABC Central Coast