Paul Okon Previews Newcastle Clash


What a way to kick-off the season. A blockbuster #F3Derby against our fierce rivals, the Newcastle Jets. Ahead of the mouthwatering clash we caught up with Head Coach Paul Okon. Kick-off at Central Coast Stadium is 5:35pm.

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With an air of positivity surrounding a new-look Central Coast Mariners and rejuvenated Jets, the round one #F3Derby is shaping up to be an entertaining affair.

Mariners’ fans most recent (and fondest) memory of the 2016/17 season is our home victory over the Jets at Central Coast Stadium which ultimately handed our bitter foes a wooden spoon thanks to Nick Montgomery’s thunderous strike!

This time around, there are more than just bragging rights on the line with both sides keen to kick their season off with a positive start and a crucial win over the local enemy.

Pre-Season Summary

The Central Coast Mariners rounded out pre-season in style with four straight clean sheets, the two most recent coming against the reigning Champions, Sydney FC (0-0 draw) and a 2-0 win over Melbourne Victory.

Across the entire pre-season the Mariners enjoyed seven wins conceding just six goals, boasting eight clean sheets and scoring 19 goals in 10 matches.

  • Central Coast All Stars: 6-0 WIN
  • Hakoah Sydney City East FC: 1-0 WIN
  • Australia U23’s: 0-0 DRAW
  • Newcastle Jets: 2-0 WIN
  • Blacktown City: 3-2 LOSS
  • Melbourne City: 3-2 LOSS
  • China U’22’s: 3-0 WN
  • Wellington Phoenix: 1-0 WIN
  • Melbourne Victory 2-0 WIN
  • Sydney FC: 0-0 DRAW  

Of Paul Okon’s 11 new recruits, Spanish striker Asdrubal has already contributed two goals and a notable assist during the club’s pre-season. Defensive Dutch midfielder Wout Brama has also chipped in with two impressive goals whilst forming effective combinations in the middle of the park with fellow countryman Tom Hiariej and young Australian Danny De Silva.

Alan Baro & Antony Golec have also formed a formidable partnership in the heart of defence that could prove key to keeping Newcastle quite on Saturday night.

Paolo in the press

“I think everyone is excited. It’s traditionally a long pre-season, close to four months, and we’re at that point now where everyone just wants to kick that first ball, and play for three points,” Okon said.

“Tomorrow is a very important game for us, we want to get off to a good start. The fact that it’s a derby just makes it extra special for us, but of course for our supporters who we hope to make proud again this season.

“Most of our players are all used to playing in derbies, in their various home countries. On match day, we will show a three-minute video of footage of previous F3 derbies, of what it means to the Mariners.

“We have a few boys missing for various reasons, so the actual match day squad is pretty straightforward. There are a couple of decisions to make in the goalkeeping department, I’ve made those, and tomorrow the players will find out. We’re ready, we’ve pushed each other in pre-season, we’ve got competition for places in the team. We’re really confident in the position that we sit leading into this game.

“We take a lot out of them [trial matches against MVFC and SFC]. We were treating them as A-league games in our preparation. Most coaches will say that results in pre-season are insignificant, but the fact that we played against what we called the two bench-mark teams in the competition, the teams that played in the Grand Final last season, and we didn’t concede a goal, which last season was probably unthinkable and undoable from our perspective. It’s an area that we’ve worked on in pre-season, and the fact that we scored two goals against Melbourne Victory, possibly could have scored more, and put in a similar performance against Sydney FC.

“They’re [Jets] certainly very threatening in the final third, Andrew Nabbout had a good season last year. Roy is a real threat in front of the goal, we saw over the past two seasons that he can score goals. Dimitri Petratos is back in the A-League and Vargas, their Venezuelan import. We’ve seen footage of him, and I know him personally because he started his European career at Club Brugge, so I’ve followed him and know what sort of a player he is. If he does start, he’s certainly a big threat and I’m sure that he will be a very important player for Newcastle this season.

“If one players stands out to me it would have to be young Danny De Silva. Everyone is blessed, not only us but even neutral supporters, the whole A-League, that Daniel is here playing this season. We’re confident that he’ll provide our home fans with a lot of entertainment, but also when we play away from home, he’s a player that really excites us. Hopefully he can back that up with goals and assists and really produce what potentially we believe he can do.

“We’re going to have support and we need to take advantage of it. It’s always great playing at home. We want to go into every game trying to win it, but certainly at home in front of our fans we want to be winning more football games and performing, none better to do that first game of the new season against than the local town rivals.”

Opta Stat-Attack

  • The Mariners ran out to a 2-0 victory when these teams met last
  • This will be the third time in A-League history that a season has opened with an #F3Derby in the opening round, with the Mariners undefeated across those fixtures (W1, D1).
  • Indeed, the Mariners are undefeated in their last five season openers (W2, D3), and have only opened two A-League campaigns with a loss in the competition’s history (2006/07, 2011/12).
  • Newcastle have failed to find the back of the net in each of their last five games played away from home, conceding a total of 14 goals across that span.
  • The Mariners blasted 10 goals in the 15-minute period immediately after half-time last season, the third most of any team in the competition behind Sydney FC (12) and Perth Glory (11).
  • Only Sydney FC (2) conceded fewer goals in the final 15 minutes of games last season than Newcastle Jets (6).
  • Central Coast Mariners (336) and Newcastle Jets (377) conceded fewer fouls than any other teams in the competition last season.

Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Ben KENNEDY (gk), 3.Josh ROSE, 4.Jake McGING, 5.Antony GOLEC, 6.Tom HIARIEJ, 9.ASDRUBAL, 10.Daniel De SILVA, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 14.Adam BERRY, 15.Alan BARO (c), 16. Liam ROSE, 17.Josh BINGHAM, 18.Tom GLOVER (gk), 19.Harry ASCROFT, 23.Wout BRAMA, 27.Lachlan WALES
**two to be omitted**

Unavailable: 2.Storm ROUX (Lower back – 1 week), 7.Andrew HOOLE (suspended – 1 week), 21.Kye ROWLES (knee – 1 week)

Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Jack DUNCAN (gk), 4.Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 5.Ben KANTAROVSKI, 6.Steven UGARKOVIC, 7.Dimitri PETRATOS, 8.Ronald VARGAS, 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 10.Wayne BROWN, 12.Mario SHABOW, 13.Ivan VUJICA, 15.Andrew NABBOUT, 16.Nick COWBURN, 17.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 19.Kosta PETRATOS, 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 22.Lachlan JACKSON, 24.Joe CHAMPNESS, 44.Nikolai Topor-STANLEY
**two to be omitted**

Unavailable:  Nil

‘Legends Challenge’ – Hyundai A-League 2017/18 Round 1
Central Coast Mariners Legends vs. Newcastle Jets Legends
followed by Central Coast Mariners vs. Newcastle Jets (#F3Derby)
Date: Saturday October 7 2017
Venue: Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Kick-off: 4:00pm
Gates Open: 3:45pm
Social Media: #F3Derby #CCMFC