Central Coast Mariners commenced their two-match pre-season tour of New Caledonia with a 1-1 draw against their hosts in Noumea.
Bernie Ibini’s opportunistic effort just ten minutes in was cancelled out by a rasping free-kick eleven minutes after the interval, with neither side able to trouble the scorers at the Stade Numa Daly thereafter.
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 that have travelled to the idyllic pacific island.
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 was impressed by the efforts of Trent Sainsbury in particular.
“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.”
New Caledonia mentor Alain Moizan made full use of his capacity to rotate his squad, bringing on almost a full, fresh new team for the second stanza.
Arnold said Moizan’s changes ensured Les Cagous were full of running and energy throughout the entirety of the friendly clash.
The wily Arnold also described the 56th minute free kick as a “bomb” that “no one could do anything about”.
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