Paul Okon Previews: Sydney vs. Mariners


The Central Coast Mariners face a tough battle against Sydney FC on Saturday night at Allianz Stadium. After the Mariners’ final training session of the week, Head Coach Paul Okon spoke with media.


Sydney FC picked up this season where they left off, having only lost one game in their 16 fixtures.

That one loss was at the hands of the Central Coast Mariners in Hyundai A-League round six with a 2-0 win to the Yellow & Navy at Central Coast Stadium.

Former Sydney FC player, Andrew Hoole opened the scoring with a classy finish past Andrew Redmayne and the result was confirmed when Jake McGing headed home in the second half to double the Yellow & Navy’s lead.

In the media this week, Alan Baro, Wout Brama & Paul Okon have all agreed that Saturday night is a completely new battle. The positives from round six will be addressed but they will need to be even better in round 17 to overcome Sydney on their home turf.

Allianz Stadium is a venue where Sydney have notched a 24 game unbeaten run, a record that the Central Coast will be hoping to spoil in Graham Arnold’s 200th Hyundai A-League match as a coach.

The Mariners have some big names coming back into the squad who are available for selection with: Josh Rose & Andrew Hoole returning from suspension whilst Wout Brama looks likely to return from injury.

The Central Coast Mariners will wait to assess the conditions of Danny De Silva, Trent Buhagiar & Tom Glover who today return to Australia from China with the Australian Under 23’s.

Whatever the result may be on Saturday, both sets of supporters should anticipate a blockbuster hit out on Saturday night in the prime-time slot.

Paolo in the Press

(Thoughts on busy schedule…)
“We had a tough run of many games in a short space of time so the focus this week has been about recovering and doing enough work to ensure we stay fit and keep the energy levels up,” Okon said. “We know that in this game against Sydney we’re going to have to work really hard if we want to take something from the game.

(Our 2-0 win over Sydney in round six…)
“We’re aware of what we did well in that game, we’re aware of where we needed to be better. We enjoyed that victory but moved on very quickly. Sydney have improved since then, that game they were without Mierzejewski, everyone has seen what sort of an impact he’s had on the A-League. But for us, if we do things the way we know we can, we can compete with any team in the competition.

(Players returning from injury…) 
“It’s great to get players back, the squad depth was tested. We got through it but we feel like we should have had better results. Credit to everyone for the hard work they put in throughout that period, now we get some bodies back and some decisions need to be made.

“We’re proud of Lachie Wales, he’s at the start, there’s a lot of hard work ahead but he’s had an impact which is what you hope for. You don’t want to put too much of an expectation on young players but he was excellent last week.

“Jake McGing has been doing fantastically well, Jacob Melling showed his quality last week and he really fits into our playing style. He’s aggressive, he wins the ball and we just hope that when we select the team this weekend, everyone is ready for the challenge.

(New signing, Peter Skapetis…)
“Pete is a talented young player, he’s a goal scorer who returned this season but spent the most of his development years in the U.K. He’s sored a load of goals at Youth International level for Australia. He’s done relatively well at the Roar this season albeit he’s played a little out of position on the wing, which he can do but he’s more of a nine.

“The challenge for Pete is to break into the team. There’s an expectation that he works hard, has the right attitude and that he plays his part in what we hope to be a better run in terms of results in the back end of the season.

(How to approach the Sydney front four…)
“There’s a challenge every week in the A-League, most teams have those types of players up top whether it’s Sydney or any other team, there is that quality that you need to be on top of.

“That’s no different this Saturday. We’re quite confident that our defence can cope, you need to be brave when you go down to Allianz. Sydney have a very strong record there, so you need to turn up ready to work hard and I’m sure our boys will do that.

(Will Sydney be looking for revenge…)
“Sydney will want to keep their run going. They will want to put that result right, they will not want to lose their first game at home for a while. We haven’t spoken about how Sydney will approach it; all this week has been about what we need to do.

“When we use the ball, we fell that we’re one of the most dangerous teams. It’s business as usual but it’s Sydney FC away so we know that it’s going to be tough.

(De Silva, Buhagiar & Glover’s return from international duty…)
“They will get their medical check today to see if there are any issues but the feedback is that all three are OK which is great news. They will do a little bit of work later today and then we can determine if any of the three will be a part of the match day squad tomorrow,” Okon said.

Opta Stat-Attack

  • Central Coast Mariners ran out to a 2-0 win when these teams last met, snapping a nine-game winless streak against the Sky Blues (W8, D1).
  • Sydney FC are undefeated in their last 24 games on home turf (W19 D5).

  • This will be Graham Arnold’s 200th game as a manager in the A-League as he takes on his former club; only Ernie Merrick (257) has coached more games.
  • Central Coast (196) and Sydney FC (202) have conceded fewer fouls than any other teams in the competition this season.
  • Bobô has been directly involved in 20 goals this season (15 goals, 5 assists), seven more than any other player.
  • Ben Kennedy has a save percentage of 76% this campaign, the best of any keeper to have made at least 10 saves.

Match Details
Saturday, 20 January 2018
Hyundai A-League Round 17
Match: Sydney FC vs. Central Coast Mariners
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 7:50pm (AEDT)
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS AUSTRALIA 501 & One HD
Hash-tag: Join the match conversation using #SYDvCCM & #CCMFC