Mariners boss addresses transfer rumour & backs star for Socceroos as icon makes big call

HIGHLIGHTS: The Central Coast Mariners smashed Adelaide United 4-0 on Saturday night.

Central Coast Mariners moved second on the Isuzu UTE A-League table with a 4-0 demolition of Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium on Saturday night as Angel Torres and Josh Nisbet starred. After the match, Mark Jackson answered two big questions.

A goal from Christian Theoharous, a double from Angel Torres in the space of three minutes and a late penalty from Jing Reec saw the reigning champions make it 11 matches undefeated in style.

If they beat the league-leading Wellington Phoenix next week on their own patch, the Mariners will sit atop the Isuzu UTE A-League.

Given everything that has happened since they held the trophy aloft in June, that would be an extraordinary achievement from Jackson and his team, particularly when you remember they lost each of their opening four matches of this campaign.

Even after the departure of talisman Marco Tulio at the start of January, the Mariners have answered every question thrown at them and now stand alone as the most in-form team in the country.

At the heart of that dominance has been Angel Torres; the Colombian forward who was written off almost immediately after his arrival from Balzan in Malta.

He has responded by scoring 10 goals and providing two assists in his first 14 A-Leagues appearances, leading a Mariners attack who have outscored every other side in the Isuzu UTE A-League this term, scoring 31 goals in total.

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Against Adelaide, Torres produced two top class finishes to put his team 3-0 up at the break.

The only real issue for the Mariners is that their star import – like a number of others before him – may actually be playing too well. Recently, rumours have linked the 23-year-old with a move to South Korea, with K2 side Suwon Bluewings reportedly keen on his services.

Speaking on 10 Bold and Paramount+ after his side’s victory, Jackson poured cold water on those links: “I’ve heard the rumours but there’s been nothing concrete on the table for Angel. Nothin at all.

“He’s a player who’s enjoying his football, he’s a player who’s growing with the team every day.

“His performances you see there, he works for the team. Everybody works for each other in this club. It’s great to be a part of.”

Meanwhile, midfielder Josh Nisbet – one of the remaining star’s from last season’s championship-winning side – continues to go from strength to strength.

The Isuzu UTE A-League’s shortest player as imperious once again against the Reds, taking more touches (80) and completing more passes (49/56) than any other Mariners player, while only Mikael Doka completed more tackles than his four.

Nisbet is gradually mounting a serious case for Socceroos selection.

After Graham Arnold’s side was knocked out of the Asian Cup by South Korea overnight, there have been suggestions that new blood could soon be integrated into the national team.

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The Socceroos boss could do worse than turn to Nisbet who has become one of the most consistent and efficient midfielders in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

“Of course (Nisbet should be looked at by the national team coach), he’s performing at a really high level, really high level. And part of a team and we’re performing well also,” Jackson said when asked about his star’s Socceroos chances.

“So if I were involved in that squad – and I’m sure they look at every player at that level and they’ve got their eyes on every player. He’s a fantastic player, so he probably deserves that chance if it comes about. That is not for me to decide.”

In fact, Nisbet is in such good form, A-Leagues legend Archie Thompson said: “The kid is just incredible. 

“He is for me the best midfielder in this league at the moment”