CENTRAL COAST MARINERS 2011/12 Season Preview

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Season Six was another summer in which Central Coast Mariners played bridesmaids. While the big boys of the competition spent the winter signing big name Socceroos the Coast have been quietly refining their list, populating the dressing room in key areas and brushing off Scottish Premier League heavyweights Celtic Football Club in the process.

Last Season…
2nd. And Runners-Up in the Hyundai A-League Finals Series.

They’ll Win The League Because…
…of their record. Losing three Grand Finals in the six year history of Hyundai A-League is a record that no club would boast about. However Graham Arnold has not put a foot wrong in the offseason whereas Brisbane Roar have somewhat succumbed to the curse of the A-League Champion. As a slew of key Roar footballers have agreed to more lucrative terms on bigger stages, the Central Coast Mariners have quietly retained key personnel. Mustafa Amini has been loaned back to Bluetongue Stadium from off-season acquirer and Bundesliga Champions Borussia Dortmund. Add to this the key signing of Adriano Pellegrino for Patricio Perez, the signing of Stuart Musialik, and the retention of anchors Rose, Zwaansvijk, Griffiths and Bojic and the Mariners look to have the balance to finally go all the way.

They’ll Be Cellar Dwellers Because…
…their squad is young. If things don’t go their way early, the pressure on young lynchpins Oliver Bozanic and Matt Ryan may prove to be telling. While the Olyroos Captain is no stranger to high level football having played in England with Reading, scoring an extra time goal in the 2011 Hyundai A-League Grand Final and taken the Olyroos to a World Cup in South America, being the engine room week in week out in top-flight Australia club football will be something new to him.

Talk Around The Water Cooler… Look smart in front of your colleagues with this valuable piece of information.
Former Celibate Rifles front man Damien Lovelock has been taking the boys through yoga sessions this preseason. Don’t believe me? Check out this video (and Damo’s get-up!!) from Mariners TV.

The Extended Off-Season Brought…
…the retention of key midfielder Mustafa Amini in addition to the signing of number 10 Adriano Pellegrino from Perth Glory. These are architects who will feature prominently in a Mariners’ A-League tourney. The combination is one of many Arnold will have worked on extensively.

Key Player…
Mustafa Amini – The 18-year-old Ronald McDonald look alike may be young in years, but he will be looking to dominate possession and unlock defences all season long. If Musti can fire, those around him will have plenty of opportunities to penetrate.

One To Watch…
Bernie Ibini-Isei – Compared by the folk at The World Game as a young Mark Viduka, the 19 year-old striker who has been capped 6 times for the young Socceroos was handed the number 9 jersey for season 7. Add to this a start against Scottish powerhouse Celtic in the preseason and more seasoned campaigners Daniel McBreen and Matt Simon will have their work cut out getting a starting berth up top for The Coast. If Arnold can resist the temptation to opt for more experience early, Ibini-Isei could well have that break out year many noteworthy pundits are tipping.

Full Squad List
1. RYAN, Matt. 2. McBREEN, Daniel 3. ROSE, Joshua. 4. BOJIC, Pedj. 5. PORTER, Bradley. 6. ZWAANSVIJK, Partick. 8. GRIFFITHS, Rostyn. 9.IBINI-ISEI, Bernie. 10. PELLEGRINO, Adriano. 11. BOZANIC, Oliver. 12. HEARFIELD, Troy. 13. BAIRD, Michael. 14. McGLINCHEY, Michael. 15 McDONALD, Brad. 16. SAINSBURY, Trent. 17. MUSIALIK, Stuart. 18. WILKINSON, Alex (Captain). 19. SIMON, Matt. 20. PASFIELD, Justin. 21. GALLAGHER, Sam. 22. AMINI, Mustafa.

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