Central Coast Mariners coach Paul Okon launched a scathing post-match attack on the state of the Allianz Stadium pitch following his side’s 1-0 loss away to league leaders Sydney FC.

An eighth minute strike from Filip Holosko proved the only difference between the sides in a frustrating game which featured some sloppy finishing in front of goal, particularly from the hosts.

But it was the Allianz Stadium pitch, which had featured an NRL game the night before, rather than the result which left Okon so exasperated.

“I think if you’re going to deliver a pitch like that you’ve got big problems. That was embarrassing, and I don’t think the game should have been held to be honest.

“There was an NRL game on last night, and I haven’t lived in Europe for a long time, but I don’t think that happens where another sport plays on the field 24 hours before the game.”

While Okon refused to blame the state of the surface for the Mariners loss, he did question the state of football in Australia and the priorities of the those involved for allowing it to occur.

“To have to come here and play on a pitch like that says a lot about where we are as a football nation.

“We’re worried about the Wanderers losing to Shanghai Shenhua who spend a million times more, yet we’re ok with an important game like this being played on a field like that.”

Okon may have had a strong case, with both the Sky Blues and Central Coast finding it difficult to navigate through the centre of a field which appeared lumpy and cut up.

The Mariners found it particularly tough moving the ball quickly with their favoured possession-based game, and their job was made even harder against Sydney’s ever-reliable defence, especially after going a goal down so early.  

“Sydney’s the best structured team when they don’t have the ball, so it was always going to be difficult to make our way forward in a controlled manner without risking losing the ball when it was bouncing and making it difficult to move around,” said Okon.

While Sydney coach Graham Arnold refused to be drawn into criticism of the playing surface, he did acknowledge that it was, “a little disappointing.”

With the finals series looming, Sydney will hope the Allianz pitch is up to scratch despite a congested schedule with NRL, Union and even the Socceroos hosting matches at the ground.

“I just hope for Sydney that it doesn’t become an issue because they’ve been marvelous all season, they’ve played some really good football, so they deserve to be on a better pitch,” said Okon.

SHARE