With the A-League 20/21 fixture now out in the public domain, the upcoming campaign feels far more real and certainly a step closer as the month of December now approaches.
The Mariners will open the season at home to storied rivals Newcastle Jets on New Years Eve, rolling two famously important fixtures for the Club into one big night.
Alen Stajcic’s side will have little time to breathe in the opening weeks with nine games in 38 days to open the season and the Mariners Head Coach said on Tuesday that how they navigate that stretch will be important.
“It’s an interesting draw, it’s tough, there’s no doubt it’s tough especially with all the matches early on,” he told MarinersTV.
“But from a pre-season perspective it’s great having the draw out and knowing that there’s a start date and an end date.”
“We know that we can get out there on New Year’s Eve, especially with a big game for us with Newcastle at home, we can’t wait, and it gives the little bit of extra motivation to know who we’re playing and the date we’re playing on.”
“We have to [start fast], ultimately we have eight or nine games in the first 30-odd days, so it’s definitely a tough schedule.”
“In terms of temperature it was definitely easier in the winter to back up every couple of days so that will be a challenge, but every team is in the same boat.”
The boss also discussed the squad and some potential new faces coming in, indicating two visa signings are on the way pending approvals.
We’ve still got four or five [player spots] left to sign,” he said.
“There’s a couple of visa players who we have agreed to terms with, so we’re just waiting on those final i’s to be dotted and those t’s to be crossed so hopefully we can get them over the line quickly and get them into Australia.”
“We’re very excited to get them into the country as soon as we can and have them out here on the training pitch ready for the first game.”
Matt Simon and Oli Bozanic echoed Stajcic’s comments, with the fixture release now giving the squad a firm first game date to look forward to.
“It’s really good. The boys are really positive, and I think we’re at about the half way mark now [of pre-season], we’ve played a few games,” Simon said.
“Everyone is fit and strong. Everyone is really looking forward to that first game being the derby, that gives us something to work towards now and everyone is really looking forward to it."
“We’ve been in training, working hard, and now we know we’ve got a New Year’s Eve fixture to start which has always been a massive game for the club, and our fans and our community,” Bozanic added
“We’re looking forward to starting that off with a bang, and then going into Melbourne Victory as well.”
“We’re excited to start the season on the front foot and give great performances every week.”