A-League pressure all on Sydney FC: Okon
Photo Source: AAP
Central Coast coach Paul Okon has declared that as one of the championship favourites, Sydney FC carry the burden of pressure going into Saturday's A-League meeting against his new-look Mariners.
Despite Okon admitting team confidence was sky high on the back of the Mariner's dramatic three-goal comeback against Perth last weekend, he was happy to point out that the Sky Blues' 4-0 Sydney derby win brought with it a level of expectation, especially when facing last season's wooden-spooners.
In his maiden campaign in charge, Okon was more than happy for his unfancied side to fly under the radar.
"The pressure is not on us," the former Young Socceroos mentor said.
"No one really rates the Mariners, no one thinks the Mariners are any good.
"So we will travel to Sydney with confidence, we'll play our football the way we want to play, and once the whistle goes at the end of the game, see where we're at."
Okon and Sydney coach Graham Arnold's relationship stretches back to their days playing together for the Socceroos, and on different teams in the NSL and Belgium.
It will be the first time the pair have coached against each other, though their exchanges in the lead-up have contained more pleasantries than Arnold's famed pre-match wind-ups.
"There hasn't been any taunting each other or trying to see who's more nervous," Okon said.
"It's all about everyone looking forward to the contest and preparing their own team."
Former Sydney FC player Jacques Faty will be lucky to retain his starting spot after contributing to all Glory's three goals last weekend.
Central Coast will also hope to have winger Fabio Ferreira (calf) back, though his replacement for the match against Glory, Trent Buhagier, was in sterling form flanking brace-scorer Roy O'Donovan in tandem with left winger Connor Pain.
Okon hadn't yet made a call on Ferreira on Friday, who is still regaining fitness.
"Whether he starts the game or comes off the bench, or just misses out because of what we're looking for further on in the season is still yet to be decided," he said.
"We want to make sure that whichever starting XI goes out there we have everyone at 200 per cent."
STATS THAT MATTER:
* Central Coast are without a win in six A-League matches against Sydney (D1 L5)
* The Mariners have not won in 11 matches since defeating Wellington in January
* Sydney have won back-to-back matches and scored four goals in each, having previously gone winless in 11 attempts