Brilliant Bernie targets top form


Young attacker Bernie Ibini intends to use his second spell at the Central Coast Mariners to rediscover top form and regenerate his intrinsic passion for the game.

Young attacker Bernie Ibini intends to use his second spell at the Central Coast Mariners to rediscover top form and regenerate his intrinsic passion for the game.

The precociously talented 21-year-old returned to training with the Club a month ago, and is eligible for his first appearance back with the 2013 Hyundai A-League Champions this Sunday when Phil Moss- men take on Ernie Merrick-s Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

“For the next five months I just want to try and play as many games as I can, if the coaching staff think that I am ready to be selected,” Ibini said. “I will definitely try to get on the score sheet as many times as I can (but) I just want to get back playing football well and enjoying it.”

“I feel physically good to play some part on Sunday if the coaching staff think I am ready to play. I will be really happy to be back on the pitch (so) I-ll just see what happens on Sunday.”

Ibini departed the Mariners for Shanghai SIPG in June 2013, signing a three-year contract with the then Chinese Super League newcomers.

Despite there being a number of changes in playing personnel and staff at Central Coast while Ibini was plying his trade with the side from Shanghai Stadium, he believes the same camaraderie, culture and spirit remains at the Club.

“There has been a lot of changes since I went to China, but to be honest it-s like I never left,” he said. “All the boys are still the same, the banter is still there.”

Ibini was linked to loan moves from Shanghai to Sydney FC and Western Sydney Wanderers in December, but considers the Central Coast environment as the optimum place to return to his quite brilliant best.

“I think it-s best Club for me to be back at,” he added. “To be honest I don-t know where all this other stuff came from in the papers but I am happy being back at the Mariners now and I am looking forward to the next five months.”

With the yellow and navy on the road for the next two matches, Ibini won-t have the opportunity to dazzle the Bluetongue Stadium faithful until Hyundai A-League 2013/14 round 16 when the Club battles regional rivals Newcastle Jets in the second F3 Derby of the season.

Ibini admits returning to Gosford-s idyllic bayside arena for the game against the Novocastrians, and getting to put smiles on the faces of the supporters again, is something he will relish.

“The fans have always supported me tremendously,” he said. “I am definitely looking forward to being involved in that game at some point, and it will be great to be back at Bluetongue.”

“The field looks magnificent so I will be very happy to play on it again.”

Ibini revealed that he intends to bring back his iconic ‘salute- celebration should he score for the Mariners again this campaign.

“It will definitely be involved in my celebration if I do score,” he said. “It got a pretty good report from people, so it will definitely be coming back.”

Central Coast Mariners Squad vs. Wellington Phoenix: 1. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Marcel SEIP, 5. Zachary ANDERSON, 6. Brent GRIFFITHS, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Nick MONTGOMERY, 9. Mitchell DUKE, 11. Nick FITZGERALD, 12. Liam REDDY (Gk), 13. Hayden MORTON, 15. Storm ROUX, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Anthony CACERES, 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Bernie IBINI, 21. Mile STERJOVSKI *two to be omitted*
Ins: 13. Hayden MORTON (promoted), 20. Bernie IBINI (loan commences)
Outs: Nil
Unavailable: 10. Marcos FLORES (knee – season), 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY (on loan – Vegalta Sendai), 18. Michael NEILL (knee – indefinite), 22. Tom SLATER (back – 1 week), 23. Adam KWASNIK (knee – season)

Wellington Phoenix vs. Central Coast Mariners – Hyundai A-League 2013/14 Round 14
Sunday 12 January, 2014
Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand
Kick-off: 7:00pm (local), 5:00pm (AEST)
Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter. The official match hashtag is #WELvCCM
TV: Live on FOX SPORTS 1 & 1HD
Radio: Live on ABC Grandstand & Coast FM