Central Coast Mariners made a strong debut at the Menpora Cup with a 2-0 win over the Indonesian Super League's fifth place finisher, Sriwijaya FC, at the Stadion Si Jalak Harupat. Matt Simon scored in the first half and substitute Nick Fitzgerald put the game away eight minutes from time in Bandung, Indonesia.
Graham Arnold spoke this week about the relative obscurity of the Indonesian league and his club not knowing much about the opposition. Indeed, after just eight minutes, Sriwijaya's Cameroonian striker Herman Djumafo nearly gave the Sumatran Eagles the lead. A strong Justin Pasfield save preserved the scoreless start and gave the Mariners a chance to adjust to the heat and humidity of West Java.
Simon provided Central Coast with the opener when he headed in Mile Sterjovski's 36th minute cross, with the ball barely sneaking across the goal line. Though the Mariners did not do much else in the first half, the cushion allowed for freer attacking in the second. Mitchell Duke started the half well, as did Marcos Flores, but it was substitute Michael McGlinchey who powered the middle of the second half. In the 80th minute, Fitzgerald, who subbed on for Duke eight minutes earlier, knocked in a loose ball for Central Coast's second.
In a club press release, Arnold expressed his qualms and his excitement after the 2-0 win:
"Why we're here is to try and get some good games in and it was a very good and competitive game. If there was one disappointing thing it was the lack of killer instinct in front of goal but we made the chances, and the hardest thing is to make chances. Once you start making them, eventually the goals will come.
"We've had a good six or seven weeks of hard work on the training pitch, our structures are coming together, our work is coming together, and Marcos Flores is starting to see the pictures and see the movement off the ball that we want. So I am very happy with that.
"I was over the moon with Storm Roux. I thought he was excellent at right back and is starting to get what we want and that's exactly the same as what Josh Rose gives you on the other side. And I thought Marcel Seip showed today that he's a real good acquisition."
The Mariners, whose schedule has been changed since arriving in Indonesia, will now play Malaysia's U23 national team on Sunday before completing the three-game excursion against the Indonesian Super League's fourth place side Persib Bandung on Tuesday.
CCM Simon (Sterjovski) 36'
CCM Fitzgerald 80'
Central Coast Mariners: Pasfield; Rose, Seip (Anderson 78'), Sainsbury, Roux (Morton 75'); Hutchinson (Caceres 81'), Montgomery; Sterjovski, Flores, Duke (Fitzergerald 72'); Simon (McGlinchey 62')
Unused subs: Reddy, Griffiths, Slater
Sriwijaya FC: Alam, Dakar, Patrick, Meya, Hamzah, Astaman, Kurniawan, Eddie (Marta 80'), Setiawan, Nahumarury (Rizky 29') Djumafo
Unused subs: Hamdani, Doni, Afif, Ibrahim