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Match preview: Sydney FC vs Central Coast Mariners

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Roar Pro
3rd January, 2019
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After the Central Coast Mariners were beaten 4-1 away from home in what was a performance they won’t want to remember for a long time, there were a lot of questions asked of the future for the one-time A-League champions.

Their season got off to a great start, signing Ross McCormack on a season-long loan deal and signing Tommy Oar on a two-year deal, then having none other than Usain Bolt come on trial at the club. The game in which Bolt scored a brace made the Central Coast Mariners known to pretty much every football fan in the world, but since then it’s been nothing but downhill.

They started off the season quite well, with a 2-2 draw with the Brisbane Roar, but little did they know that that would be half the points they would go on to register in 2018.

The Mariners offered Usain Bolt a $150,000 contract – quite a bit considering he was a 32-year-old man who had never played a professional football game in his life – but apparently he didn’t have enough money already and was expecting something closer to $3 million, which is nowhere near realistic for a club like the Mariners, so naturally the deal fell through and Bolt went back to doing Optus ads.

Then it got worse, with their two best players, Tommy Oar and Ross McCormack, getting injured. McCormack has recently gone back to England, so it could be a season-long injury, and Matt Simon just doesn’t have enough quality to be a 90-minute striker.

Predicted Sydney FC line-up
I can’t really see Sydney changing their line-up at all after a well-earnt win against a struggling Brisbane Roar. Adam le Fondre is doing very well, and after his brace, he will be looking to show how consistent he really is. Rhyan Grant still isn’t in the team because of the Asian Cup, so Paulo Retre will most likely fill his spot.

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Last season there was a game against the Mariners that Sydney won 2-1, with Matty Simon scoring in the last minute of play. Retre rightfully earnt man of the match and delivered both the assists for the goals, so he will be looking to continue his run of form against the Mariners.

New signing Anthony Caceres, if cleared, will most likely start on the bench. He adds a lot of depth to the team – his ability to play as an attacking midfielder means that he could replace Siem De Jong, and he also has the ability to play as a defensive midfielder, which means he could sub for Brandon O’Neill or Josh Brillante, and he will be very useful in the Asian Cup.

Josh Brilliante

(AAP Image/David Moir)

Predicted Central Coast Mariners line-up
Even with Central Coast’s lack of goals and non-ability to take chances, I doubt there will be any changes made up front. The only way Mike Mulvey could possibly fit Jordan Murray into the starting XI is by changing the formation into a more attacking layout, but with the Mariners’ defensive woes likely to be exacerbated coming up against the likes of Le Fondre, Alex Brosque, Milos Ninkovic and De Jong, I doubt he’ll will be looking to make any changes at the expense of his defence.

The only other option is to bring Murray on for Matt Simon, and that is doubtful after the last Sydney game, in which he terrorised the back line and scored a goal. With Simon also having spent three years at Sydney, he will know a lot of the members of the team and their playing style. Not only that, he is their captain, and captains should get game time.

Matt Millar will be looking to continue impressing at right back, but it will be hard, as he’s coming up against Ninkovic, which won’t give him much room to attack. Jack Clisby and Antony Golec, two key players, are out, but they are matched because Jonathan Aspropotamitis has the chance to make his long-awaited debut for the Mariners. Tom Hiariej and Kalifa Cisse have also returned to the team, which will be key for the Mariners.

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Predicted match result
Sydney FC is playing at home and will be looking to extend their three straight wins into four against a side that has been struggling all season. Le Fondre will continue his streak in front of goal, and if Sydney has the right tactics and want it as much as the Mariners, surely they will manage to get the win at Jubilee.