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Central Coast Mariners planning deep FFA Cup run - Paul Okon

Paul Okon
Paul Okon will be in charge of a new-look Central Coast side this season, with 11 new faces in the squad.

Central Coast coach Paul Okon is hoping for a protracted run in the FFA Cup to give his newly assembled squad an early shot of confidence ahead of the 2017-18 A-League season.

The Mariners have made 11 new signings on the back of a dismal 2016-17 campaign that saw the team finish eighth after losing 16 games.

Spanish striker Asdrubal and Dutch midfielder Wout Brama are the latest arrivals at Central Coast Stadium.

"Not everyone who left, we wanted to," Okon said on Tuesday ahead of his second campaign with the side.

"But we felt that with good planning that we could put together a team certainly stronger and hopefully performances and results this season will vindicate that."

The Mariners will face Blacktown City in Sydney on Wednesday night for their first FFA Cup round of 32 clash.

But with Brama still overseas and Asdrubal not yet fit enough for selection, Okon says it won't reflect on the coming year.

"One of the issues is trying to find games in the preseason when you're out of the FFA Cup," Okon said.

"For us, it's certainly a step in the direction of where we want to go, playing these competitive games.

"I'm sort of curious to see how we go with that."

Australian Tom Glover, on loan from Tottenham, is vying to be the Mariners' first-choice goalkeeper against Ben Kennedy and Adam Pearce.

Ex-Perth Glory midfielder Daniel De Silva returns to the A-League after cutting short a disappointing spell in Holland with Roda JC.

"We've got a number of players who can play in various positions so we'll probably go with what we think is our fittest team," Okon said.

"But it's certainly no indication of that being the starting 11 for round one of the A-League.

De Silva is unlikely to play as he gets up to speed on his fitness but Okon is confident he will play a key role next season.

"Our focus is building him up slowly and making sure he's 100 percent for round one," he said.

But other new recruits Tom Hiariej -- a former Dutch youth international midfielder -- and Spanish defender Alan Baro are both fit and available for selection.


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