The Central Coast Mariners are heading south to take on Melbourne Victory for the third and final time this season and we caught up with Head Coach Paul Okon to preview the fixture.
The Mariners and Victory have met on two occasions this season that both ended in 1-1 draws. The first fixture was headlined by stunning strikes by Connor Pain and Leroy George before they did battle in January which saw Lachlan Wales and Blake Powell combine off the bench to seal a crucial point in Geelong.
Victory come into the fixture brimming with confidence after securing a 1-0 win over Kawasaki Frontale in the AFC Champions League at AAMI Park.
The Mariners will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing result in Perth against the Glory where they fell 3-1 at nib Stadium.
Unfortunately for the Mariners, they will be without Dutch midfielder Tom Hiariej who continues his recovery from a groin injury sustained in the side’s win against Wellington Phoenix.
Paolo in the Press
(Thoughts leading into Victory clash…)
“We’re expecting another tough game,” Okon said. “Both games we’ve played against Victory this season we’ve really matched up against them and probably felt in the first game at home we should have won. Down in Geelong it was a really hot day and we stayed in the game, probably rode our luck at times but on effort I think we deserved that point down there.
“AAMI Park isn’t an easy place to go and Victory will be on a high after a great result midweek in the ACL so we know that the challenge is there and the difficulty of it but we’ve matched up against them this season so we go down there confident that we can perform.
(Reflection on game against Perth…)
“We didn’t have enough urgency and we weren’t resilient enough when we needed to be. We were caught out on two set pieces which was extremely disappointing but we had our moments and some threatening half opportunities that were blocked inside the box.
(Belief within the Mariners…)
“That hasn’t been an issue this season. Even though the ladder doesn’t show that, I can’t remember a game where we weren’t competitive where we thought we had no chance. Of course, we need to be better in key moments of the game because that’s where we haven’t played like a team that wants to finish in the top six.
(Injury update on Tom Hiariej…)
“Tom’s an important player for us and I think everyone has seen that this season. We’re awaiting news from the specialist as to how long it will be and if he will be back this season. We’re anxiously waiting that news but, that gives an opportunity for someone else.
(Message to the players…)
“We need to match Victory in everything: intensity, hunger, desire. If you’re not prepared to do that down there then it can be a long 90 minutes. We’re confident that we will be able to do that. Against teams up the top of the table this season we’ve seemed to rise to the occasion, so we’re quite confident that we will do that on Sunday.
- The last time the Mariners picked up a win against the Victory in Melbourne was in November 2009; they’ve earned just four draws from 11 such games since.
- Melbourne Victory have won 12 of their last 15 games at AAMI Park, failing to score only once in that span.
- Victory have scored at least once in 20 of their last 21 matches; they’ve scored five across their last two outings.
- The Victory and Mariners have each conceded just three goals in the opening 15 minutes of games this season, fewer than any other teams in the competition.
- Antony Golec (975) is just 25 completed passes shy of his 1,000th for the season; only three other players have managed more passes this term.
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Matt ACTON (Gk), 4.Rhys WILLIAMS, 6.Leigh BROXHAM, 7.Kenny ATHIU, 8.Besart BERISHA, 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 10.James TROISI, 14. Thomas DENG, 16.Josh HOPE, 17.James DONACHIE, 18.Matias SANCHEZ, 19. Pierce WARING, 20.Lawrence THOMAS (Gk), 21.Carl VALERI (C), 23.Jai INGHAM, 24.Terry ANTONIS, 31.Christian THEOHAROUS, 41.Leroy GEORGE
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 7.Kenny ATHIU (promoted), 16.Josh HOPE (promoted)
Outs: 2.Jason Geria (transferred)
Unavailable: 11.Mitch AUSTIN (knee)
Central Coast Mariners Squad: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jake McGING, 5.Antony GOLEC, 7.Andrew HOOLE, 8.Blake POWELL, 10.Danny De SILVA, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 15.Alan BARO (c) 16.Liam ROSE, 18.Tom GLOVER (gk), 19.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 22.Jacob MELLING, 23.Wout BRAMA 24.Lachlan WALES, 27.Peter SKAPETIS
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 3.Josh ROSE (promoted) & 24.Lachlan WALES (promoted)
Unavailable: 6.Tom HIARIEJ (groin injury – indefinite)
Sunday, 18 March 2018
Hyundai A-League Round 23
Match: Melbourne Victory vs. Central Coast Mariners
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 5:00pm (AEDT)
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS AUSTRALIA 501
Hash-tag: Join the match conversation using #MVCvCCM & #CCMFC