Mariners around the World: Part 2

The Mariners Academy has always had a strong tradition of selecting and developing exceptional young players, playing them in our the NPL team and when ready progressing to play A-League football. 

Many of our players have attracted the attention of talent scouts from overseas clubs with a number of these ex-Mariners successfully making the transition to play professional football in some of the biggest leagues in the world.

In today’s edition we update fans on the progress of four ex-Mariners who have recently made the big move overseas.

Alou Kuol

At 18, Alou Kuol made the move from Shepparton to Gosford to join the Mariners in late 2019 and in January 2020 was awarded a scholarship to play NPL with the club. Kuol was quickly promoted to the first team, playing 30 A-League games for the Mariners and bursting on the scene by often coming off the bench and scoring some amazing goals.

His poacher’s instinct was noticed by several big clubs overseas and in June 2021 Kuol was signed on a 4-year contract with German giants VfB Stuttgart. In his first season the striker played for the Stuttgart reserves team, scoring fairly regularly before being loaned out for the second half of the 21/22 season to Bundesliga 2 team SV Sandhausen. 

Kuol is now in his second season at Stuttgart, training with the first team and is being included in the first team squad. He is patiently awaiting his debut in the Bundesliga, which is an amazing feat for a player still aged only 21. 

The striker starred for Australia at the 2022 Asian Cup under 23 tournament held in Uzbekistan, scoring the goal of the tournament with a spectacular scorpion kick in a 1-1 draw with Iraq. This goal has been nominated for the prestigious FIFA Puskas award for the goal of the year.

Alou is eligible for the 2024 Olympics in Paris and is looking forward to being selected for the qualifiers which will be held in Qatar in January 2024. His current ambition is to play regular first team football in the Bundesliga and before being selected as a striker for the Socceroos.

(Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Getty Images)

Lewis Miller  

The marauding right back joined the Mariners Academy in 2018 and after impressing with the Mariners NPL team quickly graduated to the A-League team. The defender made his debut when he came off the bench in March 2019 against Wellington. 

He went on to play 54 A-League games for the Mariners before joining Hibernians in Scotland in June 2022 on a 3-year contract. In June 2022, Miller also played 4 games for the Australian under 23 team that made the semi-finals of the under 23 Asian Cup in Uzbekistan.

Miller made his debut for Hibernians when he came off the bench to play in a 2-2 draw with Rangers on 20 August 2022 and appeared again a few days later in a 1-0 loss to St Mirren before suffering a serious knee injury in early September. 

Miller, who turned 22 in August last year, has now fully recovered and is in full training for the first team again, looking forward to the second half of the season and helping Hibs push for a European spot. The defender loves the professionalism of the Scottish League and believes its physicality and directness suits his type of football. 

Gianni Stensness

Gianni Stensness joined the Mariners Academy in 2017 and after a couple of seasons with Wellington Phoenix returned to the Mariners in 2019 where he made his debut against Wanderers in October 2019. 

Stensness went on to play over 48 games for Mariners in seasons 19/20 and 20/21 as a central midfielder before being transferred to Vikings in Norway in August 2021 on a three-year contract. 

Stensness impressed greatly for Vikings, playing over 30 games in his first season there as a centre back. His performances impressed so much that it led to Stensness’ debut for the Socceroos in the World Cup qualifier against Japan in Sydney in March 2022. 

Although not fully fit, the ex-Mariner was part of the Socceroo squad that played against Abu Dhabi and Peru in Qatar in June 2022 that led to World Cup qualification. Unfortunately, a shin injury during this time kept Stensness out of football for almost five months and led him to missing the Socceroos wonderful World Cup in Qatar. 

The former Mariner returned to training in October 2022 and is now fully fit, currently on a pre-season camp in Alicante, Spain.  The Norwegian season kicks off in March 2023. He is keen to show his pedigree again with the Vikings in the season ahead and is hoping to reclaim his spot in the Socceroos squad as it prepares for the Asian Cup which will be played in Qatar in December 2023.  

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Jing Reec

The powerful young striker joined the Mariners Academy for the 20/21 season and was an instant hit, playing and scoring for the Mariners NPL team. This led to Reec making his Mariners debut in June 2021 when he came on as a substitute against Western United, with the striker making an instant impact with an assist for Marco Urena in a 2-0 win. 

At only 18, Reec was signed by giant Danish club Aarhus (AGF) in August 2021 on a 5-year contract and in his first year in Denmark played regularly for AGF’s under 19 team. His performances there led to him making his debut for AGF in a Cup game in September 2021.

Reec was called up for an Australia under 23 talent identification camp held in Holland in March 2022, before a foot injury in June 2022 kept him sidelined for four months.

Still only 19, Reec is now back fully fit and is currently training with AGF’s first team in a mid-season camp in Marbella in Spain, preparing for the second half of the Danish season which recommences in March. The striker is featuring in friendlies for the first team in Spain and is hoping for more first team appearances this season. 

Reec is also currently waiting to hear if he will get called up for the Australia under 20 team which plays in the Asian Cup in March 2023. He also aims to make the under 20 Australian team that plays in the under 20 World Cup in Indonesia in May 2023.