Simon sets sights on domestic success

Unquestionably the most improved Hyundai A-League footballer of the past year, Central Coast Mariners striker Matt Simon has returned from his whirlwind international experiences eager for Hyundai A-League success.

Unquestionably the most improved Hyundai A-League footballer of the past year, Central Coast Mariners striker Matt Simon has returned from his whirlwind international experiences eager for Hyundai A-League success.

Three years ago, Simon had only opposed local opposition in his capacity as a lynchpin member of East Gosford-s Central Coast Premier League charge.

Now, after two Hyundai A-League seasons with the Mariners, a call up to the Socceroos- FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign and an extensive stint abroad with Australia-s Olympic Games representation, Simon truly has the world at his feet.

After first being introduced to Australia-s Olympic Games campaign against Mexico in San Francisco in March, Simon-s cameo in Tianjin against Cote d-Ivoire at the Olympic Games proper was his tenth cap for his country.

During such time, Simon has made appearances against Croatia, Togo, the Republic of Ireland, Nigeria, New Zealand, the Korea Republic and Chile on two occasions in addition the two aforementioned nations - netting five goals in such time.

Needless to say, Simon-s rise through the ranks has been astonishing and, adding to Simon-s underdog story was an opening day goal for the Mariners against the Newcastle Jets a fortnight ago - a feat that Simon will be looking to repeat in the coming weeks and months.

"I-m absolutely loving being back home, it was great to get that first goal out of the way and now I-m looking forward to the rest of the season," said Simon.

"I played a few games overseas in the lead up to the Olympic Games and going to the Olympic Games as an alternate player was pretty special but also hard in that I was training and knowing that I wasn-t going to play, but actually getting a call up for the last game was pretty special.

"I definitely think that during the last season with the Mariners I stepped up a fair bit - I-ve learned heaps here and when I went away with the Qantas Under 23-s I learned even more.

"I think I have improved a lot and I think I can improve a lot more - I-m looking forward to this year and getting some more goals."

Simon, the Mariners- most recent Olympian of the three current Mariners squad members to have represented Australia at an Olympic Games, will be hoping to add to his Hyundai A-League goal scoring tally against the Queensland Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

Although Simon only netted his first Hyundai A-League goal a fortnight ago against the Jets in the opening fixture of season four, Simon-s first competitive goal for his hometown club was against the Roar in the playoff for third place of the 2007 Pre-Season Cup at Bluetongue Stadium.

Simon-s strike against the Roar came in the ninth minute of his first start for the yellow and navy and since that day, Simon has started a further five games for the Mariners of his 27 competitive appearances.

Simon-s impressive returns against the Roar also saw him provide the final pass for former Mariners striker John Aloisi-s goal against the Roar at Suncorp Stadium in Round 16 of the Hyundai A-League 2007/08 campaign.

"The play Queensland at Suncorp Stadium is such a hard trip and they-re a quality side," said Simon.

"We-ll train hard this week and whatever the starting line up is, I-m sure it will be good enough to do the job."

The Mariners- Hyundai A-League 2008/09 campaign continues at Brisbane-s Suncorp Stadium this Sunday, 31 August, when the Mariners face the Queensland Roar. Kick off is at 5pm.

The Mariners are next at their Bluetongue Stadium home on Saturday, 20 September, when they host season two Champions and Premiers the Melbourne Victory in Round 5. Kick off is at 7pm.

Tickets for this match are now on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season are now on sale at www.ccmariners.com.au.