The first Central Coast Mariners’ match in the 2017-18 A-League will be held at Central Coast Stadium on Saturday, October 7.
The main event will be the always anticipated F3 Derby between Central Coast Mariners and the Newcastle Jets, which kicks off at 5:41pm.
In the week leading up to the opening match of the new A-League season, the Mariners’ new midfielder, Tom Hiariej said he could not wait.
Having played over a decade in the Eredivisie (the Dutch First Division), the former FC Groningen midfielder brings a wealth of experience to the Yellow and Navy alongside his fellow countryman, Wout Brama.
Although Hiariej knew nothing of the fierce battle between the Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets before arriving in the Hyundai A-League, the 29-year-old said the excitement around the fixture was clear and he couldn’t wait to take on the Jets in his side’s opening round.
“After three and a half months of pre-season, I can’t wait for Saturday,” Hiariej said.
“The boys in the change room are really excited to kick-off with the F3 Derby, so I am looking forward to it and I hope the supporters can turn up in numbers,” he said.
“I can’t wait to make my debut at Central Coast Stadium in the F3 Derby, to start the season with a win over the Jets would be great.”
When asked about the Mariners’ supporters, Hiariej said he thanked them for their support, which has helped him settle in to the Central Coast.
“I love it here on the Central Coast,” Hiariej said.
“Beautiful weather, the team is going great this pre-season, so it’s been great so far.
“The fans have welcomed me with open arms, lots of them write to me on social media which is really cool, so they’re really nice and I hope that I can give something back,” he said.
The former Netherlands youth international is no stranger to the hostile vibe of a derby, having played in the ‘Derby of the North’ between his former club FC Groningen and their local enemies SC Heerenveen.
“The day before training, we had thousands of supporters on the pitch, there were fireworks and a special feeling going into that one.
“On Saturday, I can’t wait to experience that derby feeling,” Hiariej said.
During the Hyundai A-League off-season, Coach Paul Okon has bolstered his midfield stocks with the addition of Wout Brama and Daniel De Silva, two players who Hiariej is enjoying playing alongside.
“Every day we train, the team gets better and better.
“We are improving every day and we can’t wait for the season to begin.
“The last few pre-season games have been really good, Danny [De Silva] and Wout [Brama] are starting to combine well, so if we can carry that into the season, I know we can make a difference.
Gates to Central Coast Stadium will open at 3:45pm and the day will start with the ‘Legends’ match between Mariners’ and Jets’ ‘old boys’, which will kick off at 4:00pm.
Following on from the 2016-17 inaugural Legends Challenge, this curtain raiser is played in support of Men of Football and will feature two 15-minute halves on the full field.
Road closures will be in place around the stadium from 3:00pm.
The Mariners’ Legends squad list (subject to change due to late signings and injury concerns) includes Daniel McBreen, Patrick Zwaanswijk, Andre Gumprecht, Dean Heffernan, Adam Kwasnik, Justin Pasfield, Damien Brown, Brad Porter and Matt Trott.
Men of football is a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to assist football participants in times of need.
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