Lowe expecting well-organised Mariners
Photo Source: AAP
Perth coach Kenny Lowe anticipates a vastly different Central Coast under new coach Paul Okon, when two sides with contrasting expectations meet to open their A-League campaigns.
Championship contenders Glory are comfortable favourites to defeat back-to-back wooden-spoon contenders the Mariners at nib Stadium on Saturday.
Johnny Warren Medallist Diego Castro and fringe Socceroo Rhys Williams headline a formidable Perth squad dramatically strengthened by shrewd off-season recruitment.
On paper it's a daunting prospect for even the league's top teams, let alone one that conceded 70 goals last season.
But Lowe predicted the Mariners would be unrecognisable from their days under sacked coach Tony Walmsley.
He cited his successor, former Young Socceroos coach Okon, and an increase in experience in former Sydney FC players Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares and goalkeeper Ivan Necevski.
"They'll be a different entity altogether," Lowe said.
"Very well-organised and difficult to play against.
"They've got some experience this year. Their goalkeeper is highly experienced, you've got Faty and Tavares who've played at the top level and (captain) Nick Montgomery has about 500 league games.
"And a highly credentialed coach who's worked in the national set-up for five or six years."
Lowe was also wary of a "lively" front three in Fabio Ferreira, Roy O'Donovan and ex-Melbourne Victory winger Connor Pain.
But Glory possess their own attacking arsenal, with strikers Andy Keogh and Adam Taggart ready for deployment.
Defender Shane Lowry is still unavailable following minor pre-season surgery, while rising Mariners star Liam Rose is away on international duty.
But Storm Roux could make his return having overcome a terrible series of injuries sustained in February.
Okon is working to tighten up the Mariners' defence while implementing his preferred open, attacking playing philosophy.
"We're confident of our ability and playing style," Okon said.
"We're also confident that if we can perform consistently to the level we've shown in the past couple of pre-season games we certainly will have something to say in this competition."
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Perth won five and drew one of their past seven games against Central Coast; they last beat them 4-0
* The Mariners conceded four goals in each of their past five away games
* Glory scored the most penalties last season without missing a single attempt (8/8)