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Okon to coach Central Coast

Soccer

Former Socceroos captain Paul Okon will coach the Central Coast Mariners for at least the next two A-League seasons.

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Okon assumes the full-time role at the Mariners from Tony Walmsley who was sacked earlier this month after the team won just three games last season to finish last.

It means Okon, who has previously coached the Australian under-20s, will have just five weeks to turn the team around before their opening A-League game of the season against Perth on October 8.

However it’s not something he is concerned about.

“One thing that I’ve learnt to accept and do my best with at a national team level has been preparing players with limited time so it’s not new to me at all,” Okon said.

“It’s a part of what I’ve been doing for four and a half years.

“Any coach will tell you that they don’t have enough time but I’m happy with five weeks and confident that the type of football I want to play, I will be able to get across before round one.”

Okon played 28 matches for the Socceroos, and returned to Australia to play in 2006 with the Newcastle Jets.

He then held an assistant coaching role at Gold Coast United in 2008, and has since played a key role in the nation’s youth teams.

Mariners vice chairman Peter Storrie said they had received more than 60 applicants for the role, but saw Okon’s knowledge of youth as key in turning the Mariners around.

“In Paul we have an outstanding candidate that covers all areas for us,” Storrie said.

“His extensive knowledge of young players across the country, understanding of the Hyundai A-League and understanding of the Central Coast Mariners were crucial decision making factors.”

Okon’s appointment also comes with the endorsement of Socceroos head coach Ange Postecoglou and the club’s football advisor Harry Redknapp.

“(Redknapp) also played an important role in the recruitment process and agreed with our final decision to appoint an Australian coach compared to the raft of overseas candidates who applied for the position,” Storrie said.

-AAP

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