Mariners boss discusses how Central Coast will replace Marco Tulio: ‘You have to be open to that’

Central Coast Mariners manager Mark Jackson said the Isuzu UTE A-League champions could use the January transfer window to sign a replacement for Marco Tulio, though they could also look within the club.

Tulio is set to leave a huge void in Gosford after the Mariners accepted an undisclosed fee from J1 League outfit Kyoto Sanga for the Brazilian star, who will play his last game for Central Coast on January 6.

It has been labelled a “life-changing opportunity” for Tulio, having arrived at Industree Group Stadium in September 2022.

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Since his arrival from Portuguese powerhouse Sporting TP, the 25-year-old has scored 12 A-Leagues goals and played a pivotal role in the Mariners’ Championship-winning campaign in 2022-23. This term he has also scored eight goals in six AFC Cup games to lead Central Coast to the ASEAN Zonal semi-finals.

“Obviously we’re really disappointed to lose such a talented player,” Jackson told reporters ahead of Central Coast’s New Year’s Eve clash with Perth Glory.

“But, when I first arrived I knew we were a club that brings players in, develops them and then they move on. That’s the model of the club. I was fully aware and comfortable with that.

“What we did was give Marco an opportunity and he has flourished and progressed, and it’s managed to get him a bigger opportunity to help his family in life.”

Asked if the Mariners will use the January transfer window to replace Tulio, Jackson told reporters: “We are looking in January.

“I think we have players in the club who can fill that, young players. They might not quite be at the level that Marco is now but we certainly have talented young players who we feel can come through and impact the team, and one day get to the level Marco is now.

“But we’re always open to things in January, particularly when you lose players, you have to be open to that.

“We’ve had some conversations but at this moment in time, nothing concrete.”

On Saturday, the Mariners also announced the re-signing of Christian Theoharous.

Theoharous has signed a one-year contract extension, keeping him at the Mariners until the end of 2024-25.

“I am very excited to be able to extend my contract with the club. I am just grateful and want to repay the faith and trust that both the fans and coaching staff have given me,” Theoharous said. 

“This is a great club that is very family oriented with a great group, so it is exactly where I want to be. It is great to be able to secure my future here for a further 12 months, but my full focus is just on the next match and getting the three points.”

Jackson added: “We are delighted to extend Christian’s contract. We feel it’s important to secure our high potential players and we see Christian as one of those players.

“We fully expect him to push on now this season. We’ve seen what he can do and now it is about him making his performances consistent.

“We have full belief in his ability to progress as a player with us at the Central Coast Mariners, so we are delighted to offer the extension and secure one of our high potential players.”