Central Coast Mariners skipper Matt Simon has too much respect for Sydney FC to throw any barbs at his former club ahead of Saturday’s clash in Gosford.
But the combative striker would love nothing more than to inflict a second-straight defeat on the Sky Blues to help kick-start the Mariners’ 2018/19 Season.
Simon is coming up against the Sky Blues – for whom he played for the last three seasons - for the first time since making the move back up the M1 to the Mariners.
The 32-year-old was part of a couple of hugely successful seasons for the Harbour City club, winning a Championship, two Premiers’ Plates and an FFA Cup in his time there.
But those teammates who he enjoyed so much success with are now foes – for 90 minutes at least – on Saturday afternoon, including Sydney FC veteran Alex Wilkinson.
‘Wilko’ told www.a-league.com.au earlier this week he expected plenty of banter from Simon at Central Coast Stadium and insisted there would be no time for friendship once the match gets underway.
While Simon wasn’t keen to retort to Wilkinson’s comments, he was relishing the chance to come up against a player he rates as one of “the best defenders the A-League has ever seen”.
“I’ve known Wilko my whole career. He was here at the Mariners when I first started when I was 19. We’ve become close friends and our families are close as well,” Simon told www.a-league.com.au
“I haven’t played against him too many times…it’s going to be good to come up against him. It’s something I’ve got used to over the last few years in training.
“I was always in the second team playing against him. It will be interesting to see how things go on Saturday when were on opposition sides.”
Simon admits he’s still been watching the Sky Blues closely since his move to the Mariners, and believes they haven’t changed significantly under new boss Steve Corica.
“Obviously ‘Bimbi’ [Corica], he’s his own coach and has his own ideas but the main structures and game-plan they have they are sticking to that and you can see that in the games,” Simon said.
“They are well structured and well drilled. It’s hard to stop but it’s up to us to try and do it.
The Mariners skipper added: “It’s a huge game for us back at home and we haven’t had a win yet. Everyone is keen to get that first three points.
“I’m sure the staff will come up with a game plan to combat what Sydney do and it’s up to the players to see that game plan out.
“It’s an important game for us to get [that win] on the board.”