CENTRAL Coast Mariners started their two-match pre-season tour of New Caledonia with a 1-1 draw against their hosts in Noumea today.
Bernie Ibini’s opportunistic effort 10 minutes into the game was cancelled out by a rasping free-kick 11 minutes after the interval, with the match at Stade Numa Daly ending in deadlock.
Central Coast tactician Graham Arnold took advantage of the opportunity to rotate his squad in the New Caledonian capital, handing game time to all bar two of the Mariners players on the trip.
Arnold said experienced players Patrick Zwaanswijk and Mile Sterjovski would play against New Caledonia in the second match of the pre-season tour on Saturday night.
“We put in a very good performance,” Arnold said. “They beat New Zealand in the Oceania World Cup Qualifiers recently and for our first hit out we did exceptionally well.
“This game provided us a much higher intensity than probably any game in Australia could at this time of year, so I couldn’t be happier with the start we’ve made.”
Arnold surrounded his younger squad members with some experienced heads and said that the former Qantas Young Socceroo defender, Trent Sainsbury, was perhaps the best player for the yellow and navy on the night.
“Trent Sainsbury was probably our best player on the pitch over the 90 minutes,” Arnold said. “Brad McDonald did exceptionally well as well, as did all our young boys.”
Central Coast Mariners
1 New Caledonia 1 Stade Numa Daly, Noumea Central Coast Mariners: 1. Justin Pasfield, 3. Joshua Rose (14. Michael McGlinchey), 4. Pedj Bojic (22. James Oates 63’), 7. John Hutchinson, 8. Adriano Pellegrino, 9. Bernie Ibini, 10. Tomas Rogic (17. Anthony Caceres 63’), 12. Troy Hearfield (19. Mitchell Duke 63’), 13. Brent Griffiths, 16. Trent Sainsbury Subs not used: 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 21. Mile Sterjovski