CENTRAL Coast Mariners have beaten offers from rival A-League clubs to retain striker Bernie Ibini on a new two-year deal, the club confirmed today.
Having made his mark via standout performances for the Mariners in National Youth League, Ibini has cemented his place as one of the nation's top young talents.
In 17 matches for the Mariners this term Ibini has netted four times and made two assists – form which has made the Young Socceroo a target for a number of rival A-League sides.
“They’ve [Central Coast Mariners] been my first professional Club and they’ve been really good to me so far,” Ibini said. “Hopefully I can continue to do well for the seasons that I’ve signed."
Mariners coach Arnold welcomed Ibini's signing but said the attacker still had plenty of work to do before he reached his potential, which the 19 year old acknowledged himself
“He’s already taught me a lot about my heading because he was a good header of the ball back in his day," said the talented teenager.
"He’s taught me a lot with my runs off the ball and stuff like that, so he’s been really good for me so far.”
Arnold was delighted the signing brings stability to the club for the future.
"One thing that we tried to work on was getting our young boys re-signed and after Trent Sainsbury getting Bernie Ibini signed so quickly is fantastic for the club," Arnold said.
"Now he can just concentrate on football.
"Bernie's shown at the end of last season and this season the talent that he's got, but he's just got to get stronger and got to spend more minutes on the field playing every week against grown men.
"It's a great experience for him with the ACL coming up and that's going to develop him even more."
Ibini's re-signing adds to the Mariners' recent retention of left full back Joshua Rose and defender Sainsbury. Striker Mitchell Duke, midfielder Anthony Caceres and right side utility James Oates were also recently promoted to the Central Coast Mariners Hyundai A-League 2012/13 squad.
Meanwhile Mariners keeper Mat Ryan received the January Young Player of the Year nomination today for his consistent brilliance between the posts in recent games, with performances that belie his young age.