Brisbane Roar are in our sights, says Mariners captain Matt Simon
Watch out Brisbane Roar: we are coming to get you. That’s the message from Central Coast Mariners captain Matt Simon as the Hyundai A-League season enters its final weeks.
Mariners have been firmly attached to the bottom of the ladder throughout the campaign, but the arrival of interim coach Alen Stajcic in March has given the Gosford club a new lease of life as they aim to salvage some pride from a disappointing season.
They travel to AAMI Park on Sunday to take on high-flying Melbourne Victory (kick-off 5.00pm AEST), and Simon insists that there is plenty to still to play for in the race to avoid this year’s wooden spoon.
MATCH PREVIEW: Melbourne Victory v Central Coast Mariners
INCREDIBLE JOURNEY: From the NPL to facing Paulinho: Victory's Kamsoba reflects
OPTA STATS: Every club's best player from Round 24
“For us it’s three games to go, we’re five points behind Brisbane and that’s our main goal,” the 33-year-old said.
We want to catch Brisbane before the end of the season and get off the bottom of the table.”
Mariners looking up
Stajcic’s arrival, as a replacement for the sacked Mike Mulvey following the 8-2 home reverse to Wellington Phoenix in Round 21, created an immediate uplift for the Mariners, who went on to win a dramatic F3 Derby against Newcastle Jets a few days later.
“Everyone can see we’re a lot more structured now, and more disciplined in defence,” said Simon, who missed that Jets match through suspension.
“Since Staj has come in the standard of training has gone up, [it’s] really high.
“He’s huge on accountability, so the standard around training has been good, the boys have enjoyed him being here and we look forward to every game now because we think we can give a good account of ourselves.”
Taking advantage of tired Victory?
Sunday's rivals Victory will have had a busy week, losing the Big Blue Derby at the last gasp against Sydney FC last weekend, followed by Wednesday's trip to China to take on Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League.
Simon is hoping that hectic schedule will play into Mariners’ hands come the weekend.
“Fatigue does set in,” he said. “So it’s up to us to try to set a high tempo for the game and try to catch them while they’re quite tired.”
The Yellow & Navy Foundation gets underway
Away from the field of play, Mariners have officially launched their Yellow & Navy Foundation, under the tagline Giving Youth a Chance, to provide support to aspiring young footballers in the Mariners Academy.
Aimed at helping young athletes juggle their commitments to training, playing, study and work – often while living away from home for the first time – the foundation aims to create an environment that allows young footballers on the Central Coast to be the best they can be.
Foundation Manager Sharon Baxter said: “Forming the Yellow & Navy Foundation is something that everyone at the Mariners is incredibly proud of.
“Not only will the Club increase the fantastic work that’s already happening in the community, the Yellow & Navy Foundation will increase the focus on player welfare at all levels.
“This will ensure that the best young footballers in the country know that the Mariners are creating an environment for players to be the best they can be, regardless of their circumstances.”
To offer support, or for more information, email Yellow & Navy Foundation Manager, Sharon Baxter here.