A-League season preview: Central Coast Mariners | Soccer

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Under new manager Paul Okon, Central Coast improved considerably last season and played some nice attacking football, but still managed to lose 16 of ther 27 games and only avoided the wooden spoon by a single point.

The highly-regarded Okon has swung an axe through the squad – making a mammoth 11 changes – as the club seek to qualify for the finals for the first time since 2013.

2016-17 finishing position: 8th

Coach: Paul Okon

INS AND OUTS

Ins: Tom Hiariej, Alan Baro, Antony Golec, Andrew Hoole, Ben Kennedy, Kye Rowles, Josh Rose, Daniel De Silva, Thomas Glover, Asdrúbal, Wout Brama.

Outs: Paul Izzo, Roy O’Donovan, Fabio Ferreira, Ivan Necevski, Nick Montgomery, Jacob Poscoliero, Jacques Faty, Scott Galloway, Mickael Tavares, Michael Neill, Jake Adelson.

STAR PLAYER – Asdrubal Padron

It may surprise you to learn that new Mariners striker Asdrubal played for Las Palmas in Spain’s La Liga less than 12 months ago.

While it was only three substitute appearances for a total of 30 minutes, you can’t be a mug to get any game time in Spain’s top flight.

The 26-year-old stands at only 173cm tall and is mainly a centre forward, who can also play in the hole and on the right wing.

Asdrubal has already impressed for the Mariners in pre-season,scoring an impressive lob against Melbourne Victory in a friendly on September 20.

“We’ve waited patiently to fill this position, we’ve looked at a lot of strikers and we wanted to make sure we took our time to find the right ‘9’ to complement the way we play and we are sure that we’ve done that,” Okon said.

“His work ethic is very good, everyone that we spoke to when we were doing our research all spoke very highly of him as a top professional.”

BREAKOUT PLAYER – Daniel De Silva

Daniel De Silva made his A-League debut for Perth Glory as a 15-year-old, and despite it feeling like he has been around for a long time, he is only 20 years of age.

After an unsuccessful loan spell at Dutch Eredivisie side Roda, De Silva has returned to Australia in a bid to rediscover his spark and possibly force his way into Socceroos reckoning ahead of a possible World Cup appearance.

Daniel De Silva Central Coast

De Silva’s best position is No.10 but he can also play wide on either flank.

The Mariners will be hoping De Silva comes of age during his three-year contact at the club and Okon, who has spent significant time coaching Australian youth sides, is the right man to oversee that development.

POSITIVES

You could argue the Mariners have signed poorly on the foreign front over the past few seasons, but this time round it appears to be different.

All four foreign signings look to be shrewd acquisitions, especially former Melbourne Victory centre-half Alan Baro, who was appointed club captain this week.

Alan Baro Alex Brosque Melbourne Victory v Sydney FC A-League 26012017

Asdrubal looks to be a quality centre-forward, while Dutchman Wout Brama and Tom Hiareij are experienced defensive midfielders who should help provide a strong spine for the team.

There is plenty of pacey, young talent in the team including Andrew Hoole, Trent Buhagiar, Connor Pain, Kwabena Appiah and De Silva.

However it must be noted that these players are still raw talents, with Okon hoping to develop them into stars at the Mariners.

NEGATIVES

Despite the signing of Baro, Central Coast’s defence looks to be quite thin, with Antony Golec or Harry Ascroft set to partner the Spaniard.

It’s a similar issue in attack. While Asdrubal looks to be a potent goalscorer, there doesn’t seem to be another forward who is capable of deputising for the Spanish striker.

These squad deficiencies will especially hurt if the club cops a few injuries through the campaign.

FINAL PREDICTION – 8TH

Despite a predicted stagnation in their ladder position, the Mariners are definitely heading in a positive direction with Paul Okon.

If the young talent in the squad such as Hoole, Buhagiar and Appiah can stand up and be effective in the first team, then the squad depth issues will be less of a concern.

Ultimately they will dictate the Mariners finishing position in a long campaign.



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