This Sunday the Central Coast Mariners kick-off their PS4 NPL 2 season and we caught up with Head Coach, Wayne O’Sullivan to preview the young team’s campaign.
To view the full Mariners Academy senior squad list, CLICK HERE
After an eight-game Foxtel National Youth League season, the core group of players now have a prime opportunity to play at least 26 competitive games in the PlayStation 4 New South Wales Premier League 2.
The FNYL season ran from November 2017 – January 2018 which saw a new group of young guns don the famous Yellow & Navy.
In round one, the Mariners play away to the newly promoted Rydalmere Lions FC at Valentine Sports Park and O’Sullivan says the Foxtel National Youth League season allowed his players to get a firm grasp on the club’s playing style.
“The main positives we can take from the Foxtel National Youth League season is that we had 16 weeks to work with a group of 30 players,” O’Sullivan said. “Unfortunately, the way the FNYL is structured, there are only eight games and there’s only a limited number of players you can contract and are able to play.
“But this group of players are now aware of the playing style implemented from the top by Paul Okon and Ivan Jolic and we’ve had an ample amount of time to prepare them for this competition,” O’Sullivan said.
Across an eight-game season it’s hard to establish form but O’Sullivan says there were some key players who stood out and performed regularly.
“The message has been sent to the squad that come the NPL season everyone starts on a level playing field,” O’Sullivan said. “We’ve got two top grades in the 18’s and 20’s that will be tit for tat when it comes to weekly selections.
“But in that FNYL space there were some consistent performers that performed weekly very very well: the likes of Josh Nisbet & Kyle Johnson – players like Emmanuel Peters grew a lot in that period as well, but lots of the players performed well,” O’Sullivan said.
The transition from FNYL to NPL 2 is a difficult one but O’Sullivan says with an understanding of the playing style, his players are now well versed to take on the varying conditions of the PS4 NPL 2.
“The way we’ve approached it internally is that the FNYL competition was the starting point for the development of the playing style which is a long-term strategy of the football club. With the FNYL the way that it is with a lack of games, the fact that the A-League squad is a heavy focus during that period and there’s players that need to play, we used the FNYL as a training program for the playing style.
“But now the NPL 2 is the competition structure for our players, it’s a difficult competition because the maturity is different between the players, you’re playing against men. But this is really where the boys can dig their teeth in and have a go at a competition.
“There’s relegation and promotion involved, they won’t be treated nicely week-to-week no doubt so they will be tested,” O’Sullivan.
With player development as a key focus in an academy structure, O’Sullivan says that the goal is to find a balance between player growth and of course, results.
“What we don’t want to do is present an unrealistic expectation to our boys that winning isn’t important,” O’Sullivan said. “They are high performance players who want to win and to be successful in their careers moving forward they will want to be a part of a winning team and a winning culture – we will promote that.
“We’re firm believers that the process will take care of the end product.
“The other challenge is that there are a lot of financially driven teams in the competition, it will be a tough competition but the objective for the boys is to continue with the playing style but to also win games,” O’Sullivan said.
The Mariners Academy’s first challenge is against Rydalmere who earned promotion from the PS4 NPL 3, ‘Sully’ thinks will make for a great test.
“They aren’t a club that are strapped for cash so we know that they would have gone out and invested well to ensure that they stay in the league,” O’Sullivan said. “They are also a club who are very focussed on youth development, Tony Basha is the Head Coach who has an academy in Sydney and does a very good job down there.
“We’re expecting that they will be physically prepared and a decent team so a tough test first out,” O’Sullivan said.
Sunday, 4 March 2018
PS4 NPL 2 Round 1
Rydalmere Lions FC vs. Central Coast Mariners Academy
Venue: Valentine Sports Park No. 2