Despite the excitement around an epic comeback that saw the Mariners fight from three goals down in Perth, Paul Okon says that his side were still a bit disappointed to have not gone on to win.
Okon, who experienced what looked like an emotional rollercoaster on his Hyundai A-League debut at nib Stadium spoke to media on his return to the Central Coast about the belief in the changeroom at half time.
“We were delighted to come away with something to show for our performance,” Okon said. “We’re a little bit disappointed that we didn’t win the game given that we felt we had a shout for a penalty but I guess if you’re three goals down at half time and get back into the game and end up drawing away from home, that’s important for our confidence,” Okon said.
The question on everyone’s mind was, what did Paolo say at half time?
“At half time there were no harsh words, there was no panic,” Okon said. “That might sound silly but the belief was there from us in what we can do.
“Obviously at half time we did talk about the things we could have done better and our execution in the second half of the way we wanted to play.
“Now it’s a matter of executing those performances in games for as long as possible where it really counts and being brave,” Okon said.
One of the standout performers on the night was 18-year-old Trent Buhagiar who this week enters one of the biggest weeks of his life with an English Higher School Certificate exam looming on Thursday.
“Trent’s performance was no surprise to me, I’ve been working with Trent in the Young Socceroos,” Okon said. “Perth isn’t an easy place to go for the most experienced players with the travel and three-hour time difference and he performed excellent, we look forward to seeing more of that during the season,” Okon said.
The attack from out wide was one of the highlights in Perth and Okon said that Connor Pain was a name on his roster that excited him from day one.
“Well I know what Connor can do because I worked with him at Socceroo and Olyroo level and if you look at that performance from Connor you ask the question how hasn’t he played regular A-League football for the past two seasons,” Okon said.
“When I was offered the job and looked at the roster and saw that Connor Pain was here, he was someone that excited me and someone who I have high expectations for and Connor needs to continue to aim for those levels of football,” Okon said.