He’s been at the heart of some of Europe’s best sides during an 11-year reign in the Dutch Eredivisie and now veteran defender Patrick Zwaanswijk is heaping praise on a Central Coast Mariners unit which, for the first time in 18 matches has kept two clean sheets on the trot, recording two wins in a row for the first time in 17 games in the process.
He-s been at the heart of some of Europe-s best sides during an 11-year reign in the Dutch Eredivisie and now veteran defender Patrick Zwaanswijk is heaping praise on a Central Coast Mariners unit which, for the first time in 18 matches has kept two clean sheets on the trot, recording two wins in a row for the first time in 17 games in the process.
“I think the back-to-back wins are even greater,” said Zwaanswijk.
“I-d like to win 4-3, it doesn-t matter. The clean sheet is good but the win is the most important thing. If you have seen how we have progressed, every body wants to be a part of it. The boys off the bench have contributed, there is a really good, solid team, so we can perform great on the field and that-s why I think we-ve got back-to-back clean sheets.”
The 35-year-old believes the secret to the team-s success lies at the very top, in the form of Head Coach Graham Arnold.
“I think Arnie is doing a great job. He knows what he wants and he knows how to get it. It-s not always with the best football, the most beautiful game but it-s about the points in the end.
“It-s about who wants the points more badly or more eagerly than the other, and in the last two games against Melbourne Victory and Melbourne Heart we were the team that wanted the points the most and in the end we succeeded.
“If you see how Arnie puts his mind and thoughts into it, you can see there-s a coach with a great deal of experience. He knows what he wants and he knows he-ll get it one way or the other. He wants to improve the Central Coast and I think the club has done a great job by getting him in,” Zwaanswijk said.
The newfound frugality of the Mariners defensive structure has come about at the same time as the introduction of 18-year-old goalkeeper Mathew Ryan to the Hyundai A-League squad, and that-s no coincidence according to Zwaanswijk.
“In training he is really good, a really good talent, and he-s a young player who can be really important for the Central Coast. The team was happy to have him as a second goalkeeper and now as a first ‘keeper because he deserves his place.
“He-s inexperienced because he-s a young player but he-s anxious to play and is playing with a lot of tension, but we try to get that tension off him by getting him involved in the game, someone will play the ball back so he can clear, and he likes that.
“You saw against Melbourne Heart he made a few very good saves and against Melbourne Victory he made one or two good saves and in the end that-s important for a ‘keeper to make saves, keep clean sheets and be a part of the team,” Zwaanswijk said.
The next challenge for the Yellow and Navy comes in the form of Gold Coast United, a side who are coming off the back of a massive win in Perth against the highly fancied Glory, their first of the campaign, albeit after having played just four matches, after two early season byes.
“They-re not at their best at the moment but they are unpredictable. It-s hard to say about their quality and where you have to look out for them but you always have to look out for your next opponent.
“Our next opponent is Gold Coast and we have to prepare ourselves for that but we have to prepare for our own game so we have to play the game for ourselves. It doesn-t matter who we play against, Gold Coast is a hard team to beat but we have to change the roles so we are the hard team to beat.
“Over the six games we-ve only conceded four goals and have 11 points so we-re doing great in the league,” said Zwaanswijk.
One man key to the Mariners success this Sunday in the “Battle of the Beaches” will be Argentine playmaker Patricio Perez, who returns from suspension for the Skilled Park clash, and will be on a high, after the arrival of his wife from South America earlier this week.
“It-s going to be real good for us. We don-t know how he really plays in games, we see him in training a lot and hopefully he-s even better in the games, we saw a little bit in the Sydney game with his pace, and hopefully he can lift the team a little bit more on the field and help create more chances in front of goal because that-s probably his best skill,” said Zwaanswijk.
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Gold Coast United Squad: 1.Glen MOSS (gk), 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE, 5.ROBSON, 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 8.ANDERSON, 10.Jason CULINA (c), 11.Bruce DJITE, 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 16.Kristian REES, 19.Andrew BARISIC, 20.Scott HIGGINS (gk), 21.Golgol MEBRAHTU, 22.Adama TRAORE, 23.Steve FITZSIMMONS, 24.John CURTIS, 25.Chris BROADFOOT.
*three to be omitted*
In: 5.ROBSON (promoted), 8.ANDERSON (promoted), 19.Andrew BARISIC (promoted), 21.Golgol MEBRAHTU (promoted).
Out: 15.Tahj MINNIECON (National Team Duty), 18.James BROWN (National Team Duty),
Unavailable: Daniel Piorkowski (ankle injury – 4 weeks), Matt Osman (knee injury – indefinite), Joel Porter (hamstring injury – 1 week).
Central Coast Mariners squad: 2 Daniel MCBREEN, 3.Joshua ROSE, 4.Pedj BOJIC, 5.Brad PORTER, 6.Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7.John HUTCHINSON, 8.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 9.Nik MRDJA, 10.Patricio PEREZ, 12.Matthew LEWIS, 14.Michael McGLINCHEY, 17.Chris DOIG, 18.Alex WILKINSON (c), 19.Matt SIMON, 20.Mathew RYAN (gk), 23.Adam KWASNIK, 30.Paul HENDERSON (gk).
*two to be omitted*
In: Patricio PEREZ (returns from suspension), Matthew LEWIS (promoted), Chris DOIG (promoted)
Out: Oliver BOZANIC (National Team Duty)
Unavailable: Trent SAINSBURY (knee – 3 weeks), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee – season)
Referee: Jarred Gillett