When you’re faced with the prospect of coming up against Marco Reus, Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller and Mats Hummels, there’s a good chance you’re doing so with a PlayStation remote in hand and the voice of Clive Tyldesley bellowing from the TV screen.
But tomorrow morning, no less than five former Mariners have the chance to play on the hallowed turf of the Fritz-Walter-Stadium in Kaiserslautern – the same turf upon which the Socceroos famously beat Japan during the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Some of the men who once donned the yellow and navy will be tasked with taming the German stars face-to-face.
Oliver Bozanic, Mile Jedinak, Mathew Ryan, Trent Sainsbury and Alex Wilkinson have all been included in Ange Postecoglou’s squad for the upcoming friendlies against Germany and FYR Macedonia, with the former kicking off at 6.45am tomorrow morning (AEDT).
The Central Coast Mariners operate on the mantra of ‘giving youth a chance’ and there is no prouder product of the Mariners’ youth system than seeing 20 percent of the national team squad made up with legends who once called Central Coast Stadium home.
Take for instance, the Socceroos and Crystal Palace skipper Mile Jedinak. A decade ago he was playing with Sydney United 58, travelling up the freeway each day to trial with Lawrie McKinna and the Mariners, chomping at the bit for a Hyundai A-League contract. He is now the captain of an English Premier League outfit and just two months ago he lifted the Asian Cup aloft as the Socceroos captain.
It’s safe to say that the Central Coast Mariners and Australian football were repaid the faith 100 times over for giving Jedinak his first shot.
Bozanic and Ryan shun through the Mariners’ youth system, and now the latter stands as Australia’s undisputed number one goalkeeper with a host of accolades to his name
For a player who is 22 years old, his honour list reads like a seasoned pro with; two consecutive Belgian Goalkeeper of the year awards (for Club Brugge); a Belgian Cup; an AFC Asian Cup; an AFC Asian Cup Golden Glove a Hyundai A-League Championship and a host of youth awards. Bozanic received a late call up to the Socceroos whirlwind tour of Europe and has scored a host of stunning goals since joining FC Luzern in Switzerland.
Meanwhile, Sainsbury (PEC Zwolle, The Netherlands) and Wilkinson (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC, South Korea) have become two of the nation’s most reliable centre backs. Wilkinson a foundation player for the club and Sainsbury plucked from the AIS youth system were two defensive enforcers who played well beyond their age at the Mariners and continued their impressive performances for the Socceroos. Sainsbury took out Man of the Match honours in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup final triumph over South Korea back in January.
Interested punters can catch the Socceroos in action against Germany by tuning into Fox Sports who are broadcasting both matches live and exclusive (see below for further details).
Wednesday, 25 March
Germany v Australia
Kick off 8.45pm (Thursday, 26 March – 6.45am AEDT)
Monday, 30 March
FYR Macedonia v Australia
National Arena Phillip II of Macedonia, Skopje
Kick off 9pm (Tuesday, 31 March – 6am AEDT)