“It’s a big game” Mark Jackson previews Sydney FC clash

Central Coast Mariners return to Isuzu UTE A-League action on Saturday evening (7:45pm) as they make the short trip to Allianz Stadium to take on Sydney FC.

After a 16 day break following AFC Cup success, Mark Jackson’s side are straight back into the thick of A-League action, with this challenging fixture at Allianz the first of three games in eight days.

Following this away trip, the Mariners have a huge week with back-to-back home matches next week against an old foe in Melbourne City, and our title challengers Wellington Phoenix.


“It’s one game at a time as I always say. The sole focus is on Sydney but we know we have a quick turnaround to Melbourne and then Wellington.” Jackson said in his weekly press conference.

“It’s a big, big stage of the season but at the start of the season, we’d have snapped someone’s hand off to be in the situation we’re in now.”

We have to be proud of what we have achieved so far, but ready to take it to the next level.

Mark Jackson on approaching the pointy end of the season.

“That is the challenge for us as a group of staff and players, is to go and finish that job, to finish as high as we can and be as successful as we can.” Jackson added.

⏮ Last time out

Sydney’s previous game two weeks ago saw them surrender an early lead, losing 2-1 to a second-half comeback from Wellington Phoenix after Robert Mak had put them in front.

The Mariners have had a 16 day break since their last fixture, a 0-0 draw in India which sealed progression to the Inter Zonal Final of the AFC Cup, where we will face Kyrgyz club Abdysh Ata-Kant over two legs.


Jackson said he utilised the break to give the players some well earned rest, but says the squad have had a strong five days of training leading into Saturday’s game.

Our last A-League game saw us hit the summit of the Isuzu UTE A-League with a 3-0 win in Campbelltown over Macarthur, but Wellington’s win over Sydney took them back to the top with a three point gap, but having played a game more than ourselves.

⚔️ Previously against Sydney

The previous meeting with Sydney back in February saw the Sky Blues end our 14 match unbeaten run, their 3-1 victory at Our Paradise being our only defeat since early November.

Two rapid-fire goals in the first eight minutes followed by another shortly after put us on the back foot and we couldn’t recover on the night, despite Angel Torres pulling one back in the second half, but Mark Jackson is confident that the team have learned from that and know what to expect when we meet again on Saturday evening.

“We’re excited. We’ve had a little bit of time off and this is a great game for us to come back into.” Jackson told the press.

When they visited Our Paradise they got the victory so we are really determined as a group to go there and put a performance in.

Mark Jackson ahead of Sydney clash.

Jackson discussed this fixture in even more depth, when making a special guest appearance on Box2Box Podcast earlier this month, he said:

“They came out of the blocks against us when we played them at home, we didn’t deal with that well and they put the game to bed within 20 minutes. We have learnt a lot from that.”

“A lot of people talk about the Red Bull style and press and I was privileged to work with Jesse Marsch so I know a lot about the type of press. There is a high energy about how they play and get after the game. When they get it right it can be really dangerous and if you’re not on your game or get wobbled by it then you get punished, that happened to us.”

“We have a lot of work to do in the build up to that game to prepare for it. We know what they’re going to bring and I doubt they’ll change it.”

“They are a team in really good form. [Against Wellington], they showed attributes that they could be a really good team. Not just in the press, because if you just speak about that, it does a disservice to how they play with the ball, they have quality players who can be dangerous,” he said.

“We’re going to have to prepare to the best of our ability. We are going to utilise the week [without a game] in the lead up to it to emphasise with how we’re going to deal with what they’ll bring.”

“We have to be mindful and really respectful in Sydney’s case but it’s about what we do as a team. I’m looking forward to a tough game against them. Hopefully we can perform to our level and get the points we need.”

👀 Players to watch

There are a number of key match-ups and star players on show in this one, two of those being legendary A-League goalkeepers Andrew Redmayne and our very own Danny Vukovic.

Vukovic has not conceded a single league goal since the defeat to Sydney last month, keeping four consecutive A-League clean sheets and a further three in the AFC Cup during that time. His total number of clean sheets for the season is 10, two more than his closest challenger Alex Poulsen on the league leaderboard.

On the attacking front, the two standout players are Torres and Joe Lolley. Both are their side’s most dangerous attackers with 14 goal contributions each.

Sydney’s firepower is added to by Brazilian forward Fabio Gomes, their top scorer with nine, as well as experienced forward Mak who has six to his name.

As well as Torres, The Mariners will be looking to chief creator and now Socceroo, Josh Nisbet to help unlock the Sydney defence, as well as our own Brazilians Mikael Doka and Ronald Barcellos who were both finding fine form before the international break.

Nisbet returned to Mariners Centre of Excellence on Thursday, to a hero’s welcome from the group.

🎟 Support us in Sydney

Our popular Supporter Buses have sold out, but match tickets are still available via Ticketek.

We’re going to a great stadium. They have passionate fans and so do we. I’m sure we’ll have quite a few fans across there. Our away support is fantastic, particularly the games in the Sydney area.

Mark Jackson on Mariners travelling support.

“These are the games you look forward to as players and coaches. You want to be involved in the big games and this is a big game.” Jackson added.

You can get all of Jackson’s pre-match thoughts, with his full press conference via A-League’s Official Website.