Youngsters Primed for Coastal Raid

The Central Coast Mariners are counting down the days until they take on old foes Gold Coast United in this weekend’s opening round of the National Youth League. With a side full of familiar faces, blended in with some exciting recruits, including new captain Sam Munro, the Mariners will be hoping to get their campaign off to the best possible star

The Central Coast Mariners are counting down the days until they take on old foes Gold Coast United in this weekend-s opening round of the National Youth League. With a side full of familiar faces, blended in with some exciting recruits, including new captain Sam Munro, the Mariners will be hoping to get their campaign off to the best possible start.

The Young Mariners have been in promising form throughout their abbreviated pre-season, netting a solid 4-nil victory over a Riverina Under 23 select side and a 2-0 win over the Australian Institute of Sport, courtesy of late goals from Nathan Jagelman and Mustafa Amini.

Head Coach Tony Walmsley admits that whilst the preparation has been somewhat disjointed, the fact that his charges are match fit from competing in the various state leagues, and in some instances training with the first-team squad, will serve them well.

"We-ve had a very limited preparation period due to state league, but in terms of what we have shown we are OK. I think we will benefit from the young first grade players who have been in full time training for some time," said Walmsley.

With nine players from the successful 2009/10 campaign still eligible for the NYL comp this season, the Mariners have the nucleus of an extremely competitive side. Of those returning players, Mitchell Mallia, Brady Smith, Bernie Ibini-Isei, and Nicholas Fitzgerald got a taste of Hyundai A-League experience at the tail end of last season.

This underlines the fact that for the players in the NYL if they play to their potential, there are genuine chances to play professional football. Just ask current first team custodian, Mathew Ryan. Walmsley and his coaching team have recruited wisely over the off-season and on paper the squad appears very well constructed.

"The squad is very well balanced and we have added attack minded players with good pace and change of direction so we will be hard to contain.

"We will follow the first team tactically so it will be good to see how the young ones adapt," Walmsley said.

The challenge for the class of 2010/11 is to forget the achievements of last season. Had the format that is being implemented in place of a finals series been in place last campaign, the Central Coast Mariners, not Gold Coast would be champions.

In the short history between the two clubs there have been some spectacularly entertaining clashes. Indeed the unofficial ‘Battle of the Coasts- has quickly become one of the most intense rivalries in the NYL. There have been two come-from-behind draws from the Mariners, a seven-goal thriller on the Gold Coast, and of course the semi-final victory to the Gold Coast, which set their opponents on course to ultimately take the premiership trophy. Saturday-s game promises much of the same as both sides aim to get their respective campaigns off to the best possible start.

"The boys will be very keen to get going and I would say we are ahead of where we were 12 months ago. Gold Coast are a strong club and posed problems for us last season," Walmsley said.

The Head Coach is far too experienced to be lulled into a false sense of security and the Mariners headmaster has got plenty of ambitions for his charges for the season ahead.

"We have worked on some team goals around performance; in defence, attack and transition, but from my point of view the measure of our success will always be in recognition of our boys at first team level," said Walmsley.

Walmsley recognises that the NYL is first and foremost a breeding ground for the next generation of Australian players. That after all is why the National Youth League was created, to create an environment for the most talented youngsters to play against each other regularly.

"Any true development pathway needs an end product and for us it's about helping players turn pro. These are young men with talent and great potential, but they will need to show patience and dedication over a sustained period to reach their own goals."

Sunday-s clash with Gold Coast United will be the fifth competitive clash between the two clubs.

Previous Meetings

Saturday, 19 Sep 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 3, Gold Coast United 3, Bluetongue Stadium Sunday, 6 Dec 2009 - Central Coast Mariners 5, Gold Coast United 2, Southport Tigers Friday, 22 Jan 2010 - Central Coast Mariners 2, Gold Coast United 2, Bluetongue Stadium Saturday 13 Mar 2010 - Central Coast Mariners 1, Gold Coast 3, Pluim Park*

* Denotes semi-final meeting

Gold Coast United Youth squad: Tim ANDERSON (gk), Josh BRILLANTE, Mitchell BEVAN, Neko VUJEVICH, Ben WEARING, Koh SATAKE, Zac ANDERSON, Steven LUSTICA, Chris HAROLD, Bobby RUSSELL, Ben HALLORAN, Elliot RONTO, Mitch COOPER, Matija SIMIC, Luke MUIR (gk).

Unavailable: none.

Central Coast Mariners squad: Mustafa AMINI, David BRADASEVIC (gk), Mitchell DUKE, Nick FITZGERALD, Sam GALLAGHER, Max GLANVILLE, Brendan GRIFFIN, Bernie IBINI-ISEI, Nathan JAGELMAN, Jerry KALOURIS, Mitchell MALLIA, Alex MANSUETO, Nikodin MATIC (gk), Sam MUNRO, Jimmy OATES, Adam ORMSBY, Brady SMITH, Nikola STANOJEVIC, Marc WARREN.? *four to be omitted*

Unavailable: none.

Referee: Matthew Gillett

The Central Coast Mariners National Youth League team will commence their 2010/11 campaign away to Gold Coast United, this Saturday 18th September at Owen Park, Southport. Kickoff is at 3:00pm AEST.