Mariners Head Coach Alen Stajcic spoke strongly of his team's performance on Friday and the courage they showed, and acknowledged that the start to the season was a small ray of sunshine for the fans of the club.
Stajcic was proud but reserved on Friday night when he spoke to media after the win over Sydney, again keen to remind the public of the mere percentage of the league played so far, but also highlighted characteristics of the performance and the building blocks they represent.
“It’s a bit early to be worrying about the table” he said.
“What I am pleased about is the performance in every game. I think we’ve shown different qualities in every game, but the courage tonight was by far the best I’ve seen from the Mariners team in a long time.”
“Apart from everything else that goes into a match, I think the courage was just amazing to be able to back up, you know the other day was the most we’ve run in a game this year, against the Wanderers.”
“On average as a team, in terms of high-speed metres and GPS metres and to be able to back up two days later and play Sydney away when they’ve had a big break is just amazing.”
“Everything in our club builds confidence when you’ve conceded the most amount of goals just about every year in the last five years, lost the most amount of matches...”
“Everything, every part of the puzzle is important. We were a bit lucky today with a couple of deflected goals, in terms of the actual goals, but the work rate from the team is incredible and again if we keep up that level and increase that level and improve those comfort levels on the ball then were just going to get better and better as it goes on.”
The Mariners had not beaten Sydney away in seven years heading into Friday night, another of the historic statistics that are slowly being reset under Stajcic and his team.
After a goalless first 45 Daniel Bouman broke down the left after a strong press forced a Sydney turnover and his excellent cross was turned into the net by Ben Warland.
Alou Kuol and Jordan Smylie were introduced for Bouman and Matt Simon with 23 minutes to play and their pressing caused problems for Sydney, and Kuol would eventually score the Mariners second goal, a move started by a crunching challenge on halfway from Ruon Tongyik.
“Alou played 45 minutes the other night and Alou is one of those people who is a real fast twitch athlete and has a lot of energy and explosiveness and he can fatigue quite quickly,” Stajcic said.
“That’s why he came off the other day at half-time, and Bouman did all the hard work to really set up the game for us tonight.”
“He set up that first goal but Smiley and Alou came on and just gave us so much energy. The pressure on their 6’s, the pressure on their centre backs, the amount they were running back and just to have the energy to be a threat and the counterattack was really good.”
Attention for the team and staff now turns to a busy week at home, with matches on the 31st January (Phoenix), 3rd February (Melbourne City) and 7th February (Western United) coming thick and fast.
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