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Central Coast Mariners season preview: Zwaanswijk tips top-six finish

Patrick Zwaanswijk is a name that evokes immediate nostalgia for fans of Central Coast Mariners.

And if the Championship-winning defender is on the money in our season preview, glory days could be on their way back to Gosford. Zwaanswijk is confident that Alen Stajcic is the man to lead the Mariners into a top six return this season – but what else is in his crystal ball?

Read on to find out.

Last season: 10th
Patrick Zwaanswijk’s predicted position: Top six

A-League.com.au’s three things to watch

1. New leaders on the Central Coast 

Alen Stajcic has been open about his focus to bring new leaders to the Central Coast, historically a team with strong emphasis on promoting youth, this season.

That experience is evident in the likes of: Ziggy Gordon (Scotland), Eun-Sun Kim (Korea Republic), Milan Duric (Serbia) along with all-time leading goal scorer and goalkeeper Mark Birighitti.

2. Unlikely teammates with a point to prove 

In addition to the core leaders of the team, yet unlikely teammates, the Mariners boast attacking weapons like Daniel De Silva, Jordan Murray, Samuel Silvera and Abraham Majok – adding to the compelling narrative among the diverse Mariners squad.

Bolstering his options across the park, Stajcic has also added the likes of Dylan Fox, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Ruon Tongyik and Gianni Stensness who are all eager to cement their place in a successful Mariners line up.

Whether it’s their first crack at the Hyundai A-League or a redemption story, this Mariners squad are forming a bond over their shared desire to give the passionate Mariners members something to celebrate this season.

3. A full pre-season for Stajcic

‘Staj’, as he is affectionately known, hit the ground running just days after his appointment at the back end of last season. But Mariners fans are eager to see what he can do with a full pre-season under his belt, one in which he has recruited no less than 11 players.

The first five fixtures

Western Sydney Wanderers (a)
Newcastle Jets (H)
Perth Glory (a)
Melbourne City (a)
Adelaide United (H)

Mariners boss Alen Stajcic was all smiles after his side's win over Maitland in the Round of 32Alen Stajcic took the Mariners to the FFA Cup 2019 Semi Finals

Zwaanswijk’s players to watch

1. Matt Simon and Jordan Murray

“Matt Simon relies on crosses into the box, he fights for the second ball, he’s a good finisher. Jordan Murray is more of a runner in behind who gets some great opportunities.”

2. Daniel De Silva and Samuel Silvera 

“It will be important that the playing style matches the creativity to score more goals. It would be good to see some goals from younger players like Daniel De Silva and Sam Silvera.”

The squad

In

Giancarlo Gallifuoco (Western Sydney Wanderers) Story
Ruon Tongyik (Brisbane Roar) Story
Abraham Majok (Western Sydney Wanderers), Jai Ingham (Melbourne Victory), Daniel De Silva (end of loan period) Story
Ziggy Gordon (Hamilton Academical) Story
Mark Birighitti (Melbourne City) Story
Kim Eun-Sun (Ansan Police) Story
Milan Đurić (FK Vojvodina) Story 
Dylan Fox (FC Anyang) Story
Gianni Stensness (Wellington Phoenix) Story

Out

Peter Kekeris (released) Story
Tom Hiariej, Corey Gameiro, Joe Gauci (released) Story
Andrew Hoole (Broadmeadow Magic) Story
Ben Kennedy, Jem Karacan (released) and Aiden O’Neill (end of loan) Story
Jai Ingham (Brisbane Roar) Story

Zwaanswijk’s squad verdict

“The balance of youth and experience is so important.

“When I came in, I clicked immediately with guys like Alex Wilkinson, Josh Rose, Michael McGlinchey and we helped the younger players understand how [former coach Graham Arnold] Arnie wanted us to play. I hope that’s the case this year with guys like Ziggy Gordon and Kim coming in. 

“I really hope those experienced players can lead the young ones coming through in mentality, work rate and professionalism. 

Central Coast Mariners 2019/20 squad 

Mark Birighitti (GK), Ziggy Gordon, Jack Clisby, Kim Eun-sun, Giancarlo Gallifuoco, Milan Đurić, Michael McGlinchey, Jordan Murray, Tommy Oar, Daniel De Silva, Adam Pearce (GK), Abraham Majok, Kye Rowles, Dylan Fox, Samuel Silvera, Matt Simon (c), Ruon Tongyik, Jacob Melling, Mario Shabow, Josh Nisbet, Gianni Stensness

Four new signings for Central Coast Mariners
Mariner Daniel De Silva won the Championship on loan with Sydney FC last season

Zwaanswijk’s prediction

“I’m very much a supporter and I have confidence that they have the team to finish in the top six. I live in North Avoca, I love football and I want to be involved with the Mariners as much as possible and support them as much as I can. 

“The goal this season should be, to be competitive from start to finish, build confidence and build a team who are working towards something. Little steps. By a positive playing style you can build success and I hope that can result into finals football. 

The kits

The Mariners are throwing it back to the early days with their 2019/20 kit, with traditional yellow serving as the base of the jersey.

Four palm trees and the words ‘The Community Club’ adorn the back just below the collar, a nod to the Mariners’ presence on the Central Coast and the role the club plays locally.

With the Masterfoods logo once more on the front of the jersey, it is assured the famous sauce bottles will be on display during the 2019/20 season at Central Coast Stadium.

Buy a membership

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Buy tickets

Don’t miss Alen Stajcic’s side in action. Book a ticket to a Mariners match here.

Source: Central Coast Mariners season preview: Zwaanswijk tips top-six finish
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