Teenage sensation Alou Kuol will leave Central Coast and join Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart on a four-year deal at the end of the A-League season.
Central Coast coach Alen Stajcic says there’s no certainty his runaway Mariners will make the A-League finals, as he brings up two years at the helm of the resurgent club.
The Mariners notched up their eighth win of the season with a 2-0 victory over second-placed Macarthur on Monday, opening up a seven-point lead at the top of the table.
That’s as many wins as they managed in the two previous seasons combined.
It’s a remarkable turnaround for the club, who have finished bottom in four of the past five seasons and have not made the finals since the 2013-14 season.
But former Matildas mentor Stajcic, who was initially appointed caretaker coach in March 2019, is not getting carried away.
“We’re not even at the halfway mark yet,” he said.
“It’s another match, another good performance, another victory. But still 15 matches to go and so much can happen in a season of football.
“I’m certainly not looking at the (ladder) and saying it’s a lay down misere. There’s a long way to go.”
The Mariners are on 24 points but Stajcic says make the finals a team usually needs at least 36.
A gap of 12 points separate the Mariners from seventh-placed Perth, who have three games in hand.
Stajcic said he hadn’t reset his goals for the season given the Mariners great start to the campaign.
“The goal right from the outset was to try and qualify for the Asian Champions League. It hasn’t changed,” he said.
“Probably a few people would have laughed at that earlier on. Maybe they are not laughing now, but there’s a long way to go.”
While Central Coast’s turnaround may have caught many observers by surprise, Macarthur coach Ante Milicic said the Mariners’ ladder position was merited.
“Central Coast have a distinct way of playing and they are very good at it,” Milicic said.
“They are full of confidence and they deserve to be at the top of the ladder.”
Macarthur face a quick turnaround with another tough away game against Melbourne City on Friday, while the Mariners host Perth two days later.