Roche ready for massive season

The Central Coast Mariners Women’s team kick-starts its Westfield W-League campaign on Monday with the side eager to improve on an impressive inaugural season.

The Central Coast Mariners Women-s team kick-starts its Westfield W-League campaign on Monday with the side eager to improve on an impressive inaugural season.

The Mariners Women possessed one of the League-s youngest playing squads in 2008/09, and again sees a young group of players assembling for a tilt at championship glory - though still performed admirably with some dominating performances against much fancied opposition; the lack of experience in the final third perhaps proving the side-s undoing.

Coach Stephen Roche has remained at the helm, and the former NSW State Country Women-s team coach is eager to improve on last season-s finish.

"I am rapt to be re-appointed as the coach of this team, as it is a fantastic opportunity," commented Roche.

"The Women-s game is certainly growing, and I am honoured to be a part of it.

"Last season I think we did well; we put together some great performances, though being one of the younger sides, we probably lacked the finishing touch," said Roche.

Roche will need to make do with the loss of a couple of important elements from the 2008 squad, the biggest pair of shoes to fill this season being those of Matildas star Kyah Simon who has joined Sydney FC.

"The loss of Kyah is definitely a big loss. She is an exceptional talent, and like I said, she is a huge loss.

"Even though, we still have some impressive talent upfront, along with the experience of Kelly Golebiowski who is a fabulous player to have in the group as she can play anywhere on the park and do a job very well - her experience will certainly help out the entire team," added Roche.

The Westfield W-League continues its development this season, and a sudden influx of players from abroad is testament to the growth of the competition, and the women-s game in general, in this country.

Roche is certain that the arrival of international talent is an added bonus for the game in Australia.

"We-ve got three girls from the USA in the team, and these girls arrived earlier in the week. “They are already in good touch, and I can confirm that the effect it has had on the rest of the team has been phenomenal. At training, the tempo and intensity seemed to lift immediately upon their arrival, and I am really pleased with each squad members- progress to-date.

"With the arrival of a couple of other international players to the competition, it means that Australia is starting to be recognised now for the Women-s game too, which is fantastic as it will continue to raise the standard and profile of the game," said Roche.

The Mariners open their Westfield W-League season with a high-profile clash at the Sydney Football Stadium against Sydney FC on public holiday Monday this week - the match is a part of a double header with the Hyundai A-League Round 9 encounter between both these clubs.

Roche is positive his side can give 2009 a real shot, starting with the Sydney FC clash.

"We-ll give this opening match everything we have, no doubt about that. I think we can trouble Sydney FC, and being the opening Round of the season, both sides will be feeling their way into the competition.

"It is a short competition, so it is important to get off to a good start, and in saying that, I think that we can really pressure Sydney FC," Roche said.

Despite his confidence in his players- ability, the Mariners- boss is aware of the threats posed by the Sky Blue women.

"They (Sydney FC) do have a wealth of experience in the form of Matildas players, and along with their run last season, will start the match as favourites; I think Alen Stajcic has done a great job at the club, and we will have our work cut out on Monday," said Roche.

The Mariners- first Westfield W-League home match will take place on Sunday, 11 October against Adelaide United at Bluetongue Stadium. With a short regular season for the W-League clubs, Roche is mindful of the need to start on the right foot.

"Last season was a new scenario for many of the girls, though for the larger group it has served as great experience.

"We still are a young side, though with the addition of 1-2 experienced heads, I believe we should certainly be aiming for a top-four finish; that is the aim, to go one better than last season," said Roche.