Championship winning Mariners winger departs club on compassionate grounds

Beni Nkololo has been granted a release from the Central Coast Mariners on compassionate grounds to sign with a Saudi Arabian club after two seasons in Gosford.

The French winger became a key part of Nick Montgomery’s side throughout his two years on the Coast, joining the club after playing in both Ligue 2 and the French National League.

He quickly made a name for himself in Gosford with a strong maiden season, scoring eight goals, with one of those, a stunning strike against Melbourne City, being awarded the Mariners Goal of the Season in 2022.

Nkololo went from strength to strength in his second campaign, scoring nine goals and tallying two assists in all competitions, en route to the Mariners winning the 2023 Isuzu UTE A-League Championship.

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The Frenchman started in their 6-1 Grand Final drubbing of Melbourne City and scored the Mariners’ fifth before teeing up their sixth in the dying minutes.

He leaves the club with 17 goals to his name, the most of any French player in A-League Men’s history.

“Thank you to Monty, Sergio and all of the staff for helping me during my Mariners journey.  Thank you to my incredible teammates who have been amazing to work with every day and  thank you to the fans that make the Central Coast special,” Nkololo said.  

“The last two seasons have been amazing, I will never forget my time with the Mariners. I  met many fantastic people who made the Coast feel like home and winning the A-League  Championship was the perfect way to finish my time with the club. Farewell Mariners family  and thank you.”

Mariners coach Nick Montgomery – who signed Nkololo in his first season at the helm – thanked the 26-year-old for his contributions to the club.

“Beni has been a fantastic contributor at the club and will always cherish his time in  Australia and at the Central Coast Mariners. At the time we signed Beni, he was at a tough  place in his career and was not fulfilling the huge potential he had,” Mariners coach Nick Montgomery said.  

“I don’t think anyone can doubt the impact and quality he showed during his time on the  Central Coast and he played a big part in our success last season. 

“With Beni’s desire to be closer to family in France I was not going to stand in his way and after numerous offers and interest, Beni felt this was the time for him to move on. He leaves  with my blessing and we all wish him and his family well for his future.”

Nkololo is the fourth starter from the Mariners’ Grand Final victory to depart the club this off-season, joining Championship bound duo Sammy Silvera (Middlesbrough) and Nectar Triantis (Sunderland), and Jason Cummings (Mohun Bagan).

Montgomery’s side will kick-off their 2023-24 campaign when they take on Sydney FC in the Australia Cup Round of 32 on August 13 in Wollongong.