Melbourne City FC will face the Central Coast Mariners on Sunday afternoon.
The pre-season so far
The Mariners have had a disjointed start to their pre-season, playing only two games thus far. Match fitness will not doubt be a factor for the Gosford-based Club, playing their own academy and New South Wales NPL1 side the South Coast Wolves in the FFA Cup.
The Wolves – who finished mid table in New South Wales’ top division – pushed the Hyundai A-League side in a tight encounter which saw the Mariners run out 1-0 winners. A sole Glen Trifiro goal separated the sides, with the Central Coast progressing to the Round of 16 of the Westfield FFA Cup to face Brisbane NPL side Olympic FC.
Other planned friendlies with NSW NPL’s Bankstown City Lions and Marconi Stallions were organised however inclement weather halted the Mariners’ two hit-outs.
Although the Mariners have not made a big name signing this off-season, a few key loanees have come into the frame for the 2014-15 Hyundai A-League season.
Malick Mane joined the Mariners towards the end of July and the Senegalese striker looks to be a direct replacement for Bernie Ibini. The 25-year-old has had stints in Kazakstan and Norway but most recently played in the Swedish Allsvenskan with IFK Goteborg. Mane will look to trouble defences throughout the season with his speed and strength.
The Mariners’ second loanee is Hungarian Richard Vernes. As another attacking-minded player, Vernes will look to trouble full-backs with his smart runs and nimble footwork. The Hungarian will call Gosford home for the next two years, joining from top-flight side Budapest Honved.
The Mariners have proven to be formidable opponents in the history of the Hyundai A-League and this year will be no different. With their defensive stocks beefed up last season, the Central Coast have recruited in the final third and will look forward to meeting their first A-League opponents of the pre-season in Lismore on Sunday.