Mariners star’s surprise Socceroos declaration after breakout season: ‘It would be perfect!

After initially struggling to adapt to life in Australia, Central Coast star Mikael Doka is now loving life down under, so much so that he has his sights set on creating history with both the Mariners and the Socceroos. The Brazilian sat down with reporter James Dodd.


When Central Coast Mariners signed Brazilian Marco Tulio before the beginning of the 2022-23 Isuzu UTE A-League season there was naturally plenty of excitement about a player arriving in Gosford who had most recently been on the books of Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon.

As it turned out, the acquisition of the 24-year-old forward proved to be a masterstroke. After taking time to adapt to life on the Coast, the brilliant Brazilian soon began to weave his magic and wow the crowds as the Mariners eventually ended the season as Champions, with Tulio playing a pivotal role in the club’s fairytale season.

Almost a year after pulling off that transfer coup the Mariners were at it again, this time announcing the signing of Antonio Mikael Rodriguez Brito – AKA Mikael Doka – from Brazilian powerhouse Santos on a two-year-deal.

‘Here we go again’ thought the Mariners fanbase – and how right they were.

But first things first, where does the name Doka come from?

“I was born in a city called Fortaleza. It’s like Brisbane,” laughed the Brazilian when sitting down at the Mariners training ground after a mid-morning session in the sunshine.

“It’s always quiet and not very cold.

“When I went from there to Sao Paulo there was a comedian on the television from the same city as me. So being from the same city, some people in Sao Paulo knew this character and they gave me the name ‘Doka’. There is nothing special about it, it’s only because of a TV character!”

Regardless of what name he has on the back of his shirt, the diminutive Brazilian has captured the hearts of Mariners fans this season owing to his excellent performances and good attitude.

However, much like Tulio, it took the 24-year-old a while to adapt to both life and football here in Australia.

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“At the beginning it was a bit difficult because I didn’t speak the language here,” said Doka, who spoke with in Spanish, a language he’s much more comfortable speaking as he continues to learn English.

“So, it is very difficult to go to the supermarket or to get things done. But after I adapted, after Andresito (Mariners assistant Andres Clavijo) started to help me, after Ronald (Barcellos) arrived who is Brazilian, it helped me more. So after that I was comfortable.

“When I arrived I had Tulio and he knew a lot of Brazilians here. So he said let’s go to some people’s houses, friends of mine who are Brazilian and for you to know.

He continued: “I went and met like 15 Brazilians and I was like ‘wow, I didn’t expect this’. This helped me a lot because I was living with people from my country.”

Before getting into more detailed matters on the pitch, the flying wing-back was keen to discuss another issue which is key to his lifestyle both here in Australia and back in Brazil: Food.

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“So the food is also very different,” said an animated Doka. “I think here you are much more natural, they eat a lot of things that are not normal in Brazil. At lunch we eat rice, beans and something else.. at night too.

He continued: “Not here. Here it’s vegetables, healthy things – in Brazil it’s not so normal! Sometimes I go to Sydney to go to a churrascaria restaurant which I really like. Here you say barbecue, in Brazil we say churrasco… but I haven’t eaten Kangaroo!”

Similar to the adaptation process of now former teammate Tulio, it took Doka a while to acclimatise to football in Australia. The defender found himself in and out of the team in the early stages of the campaign, with the majority of his game time coming in the AFC Cup

“Football in Brazil is very easy, I think it’s calmer. I am used to dribbling everything, to be more offensive. Here, I think it’s a game more of thought, of strategy. In Brazil it’s more individual, more one-on-one.

“So after I modified my mentality, it’s a bit different here. I have to do different things than what I did in Brazil.”

Initially utilised as a right full-back, Doka has seemingly flourished under head coach Mark Jackson, with the Englishman’s decision to deploy the Brazilian in a more advanced role now paying dividends – and Doka recalls the moment when things seemingly clicked for him.

“I think after my first goal against Western Sydney it changed a lot of things in my head. Before I wasn’t confident because I wasn’t playing a lot but I understood the Gaffer’s (Jackson’s) choices because we train and he knows who is better to play.

“I confess that at that time I was not that good to play as a starter. Storm (Roux) was better and I was on the bench. But then, after I started to play a little bit in front, I liked it.

“In Brazil I played further in front but it’s been a long time since I’ve played higher. But the Gaffer was giving me confidence, Andres was helping me and Daniel (Assistant coach Danny Schofield) too.

He added: “So he moved the key in my head, the confidence came back and I was able to do the best I know how to do.”


And his best has been there for all to see.

Fresh off scoring the winning goal in the Mariners’ recent 2-1 win over Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium in the Semi-Final first leg, Doka has now scored seven goals and registered a whopping 11 assists across 38 matches in both the Isuzu UTE A-League and AFC Cup to help his side clinch both the Premiers Plate and the AFC Cup.

“In my opinion and with everything we are doing, I think we are going to be Grand Final Champions. I think we’re the best team in Australia and in the history of the Central Coast.

He continued: “We are all very close friends here, we are always together. Look,” said Doka as he pointed back outside to the club’s gym, “It’s 2pm in the afternoon and we’re all here, training.

“We are all talking, many of them after training. They don’t have to do anything here but they’re all here chatting, jumping around! You’d rather stay here than go home… but I do have to go home because of my wife!

“But I feel something special and I think this team deserves a lot because they work so hard. Andres, all the staff, the gaffer, Daniel, everybody.”

Now 24 years old, rewind 10 years or so and a young Mikael Doka was taking the first steps into a professional football career at one of Brazil’s biggest clubs; FC Santos of Sao Paulo.

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Having initially moved down from Fortaleza, Doka was soon thrust into academy life at a club every young boy in Brazil dreamt of being a part of given there was a certain Brazilian superstar wowing the crowds on a weekly basis.

“When I arrived at Santos, Neymar was showing off for the world!” said Doka as he recalled what it was like being at the club during that time. “All the children had a dream to play in Santos at the time and I was living it.”

Now plying his trade in the Saudi Pro League with Al Hilal, Neymar has certainly given football fans around the world plenty of fond memories over the years while representing the likes of Santos, Barcelona or the Brazilian national team and Doka is certainly no different, recalling a moment of magic that lives with him until this day.

“I went to Santos in 2010 to do a trial and then I went back in 2011. When I returned it was Santos vs Flamenco – the game where Neymar dribbled all over the world and scored the most beautiful goal in the world. That was my first game watching Santos in the the stadium!”

He continued: “Before that I had only seen Neymar on the television but then after, I would pass him by at the training ground! At training there were three pitches and as a professional, you were on the last pitch.

“So after our training was over we went to watch Neymar’s training sessions and they (the first team) would stay there and talk to us. The club organised for Neymar to speak to the different categories, to pass on experiences.

“I didn’t have a photo with him because they were very strict so I was already a bit careful not to spoil anything… but I have a photo with his father!”

Neymar experiences aside, a series of loan moves to the lower divisions of Brazilian football ultimately proved to be a frustrating experience for Doka, who subsequently tasked his agent with finding him something new after 12 years with Santos.

However a move to the Central Coast Mariners probably wasn’t what the Brazilian had in mind when he put his agent to work, but the deal ultimately got done thanks to the persuasiveness and perseverance of former Mariners assistant coach Sergio Raimundo.

“Sergio knew my manager, and spoke with him,” said Doka when discussing the origins of his transfer from Sao Paulo to the Central Coast. “He asked him if he had a player with the characteristics they liked here.

“My agent showed him some videos of me playing and Sergio said he liked it and asked to see it here. When I looked at this place I just said ‘wow!’ because everyone in Brazil speaks very highly of Australia.”

He continued: “That it’s very safe, very peaceful country to raise your children, a very beautiful country with very beautiful beaches… but also with many dangerous animals too.

“Everyone (in Brazil) thinks they are going to walk here and there’s going to be a kangaroo passing by or a cobra or spiders!”

Now fully settled into life on the Central Coast, the 24-year-old and his wife feel at home in Australia, with the player himself admitting he’s looking forward to spending as much time here as possible.

Having initially penned a two-year-deal, Doka’s excellent performances in both the Isuzu UTE A-League and the AFC Cup are almost certainly going to have caught the eye of rival clubs both here and abroad, however the Brazilian is already setting lofty targets for the future – whether they win this year’s Championship or not.

“I have the contract with the Mariners, so first I stay here, to make more history,” said Doka when asked about his plans for the future. “Next year we have a major competition which is the Asian Champions league so I want to do a good job.

“Being Champions League winner will be very difficult but I think with a lot of work, continuing the work we have been doing we can be champions.”

Those are certainly lofty ambitions for the man from the north of Brazil, but his plans don’t end there.

In fact next season’s Asian Champions League campaign is a formality as far as Doka is concerned but it’s another plan he has that really raised a few eyebrows in the room once revealed.

“In Brazil it is very difficult to play for the national team. It’s difficult here too but I think that with four or five years of playing here, getting to know the culture, speaking English – I think next year I will speak a little better because I’m going to a teacher.

“Who knows? I could play for the Australian national team, why not. If they were interested and I am adapted here it would be perfect!

“I’m calm here, I like it here. I like the people of Australia, everything, the food, I’m used to it. So I am very happy here, I love Australia very much.

When pressed on whether playing for the Socceroos is something Doka is passionate about, his response was defiant.

“Yes, why not? I love my country too and I think it’s the best national team in the world. But if they don’t want me, it’s not that Australia is second choice.

“If I am here and the Australian team comes to me first (ahead of Brazil) – I’m going there.”

You can catch Doka in action for the Central Coast Mariners this Saturday night at Industree Group Stadium when they take on Sydney FC in the second leg of their Semi-Final match-up – with the winner then progressing through to the Isuzu UTE A-League Grand Final.