Positive update to double injury blow as Mariners avoid a ‘nightmare’: ‘Could have been worse’

Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners - Highlights | Isuzu UTE A-League 2023-24 | Round 01

Central Coast Mariners fans will be breathing a collective sigh of relief after a positive update on a pair of injuries suffered just half an hour into the Isuzu UTE A-League season opener on Friday night.

The Mariners were forced into two early changes after leg injuries to both Brian Kaltak and Alou Kuol.

Kaltak was the first to be withdrawn, injuring his right leg in contact with Reds forward Ben Halloran in the 20th minute into the A-League Men season opener at Coopers Stadium. Kaltak attempted to carry on but lasted just three minutes before being replaced by Noah Smith. 

The headache provided to Mariners Football Manager Mark Jackson was compounded just 10 minutes later when Alou Kuol went down clutching his left knee in midfield. Kuol had attempted to win the ball in a lunging tackle on Reds defender Alexandar Popovic and appeared to get his left knee caught in the turf underneath his body in the challenge.

Both players managed to limp off the pitch themselves, helped by the Mariners’ medical staff to the sidelines as Jackson made a pair of unexpected substitutions. 

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Alou Kuol receives treatment.

But at half-time, Paramount+ pitchside reporters Max Burford and Bruce Djite provided a positive update on both players, with club doctors at Coopers Stadium revealing they were treating both injuries as knocks, or corks, and nothing more.

“We thought it could be a nightmare,” Burford said. “But Brian Kaltak, that knee – they were testing for an ACL – turns out, it’s just a knock apparently, according to the doctor we just spoke to.

“Alou Kuol, knee, hip, we weren’t so sure either. It looked terrible. But just a knock… the doctors are saying knocks are not the end of the world. It could have been worse.”

“It could have been much worse,” Djite replied. “We were concerned for the players’ health for good reason. They looked like very awkward challenges, but to just be knocks, corks, hopefully you can see them next week if not the week after.”

“We did speak to Alou Kuol as we were walking down the tunnel,” added Burford, “and he said: ‘Hey, it’s actually not too bad, it’s already starting to feel a little bit better’.”

The Mariners went on to lose 3-0 to Adelaide in their season opener, with goals to Ben Halloran, Zach Clough and Nick Ansell following the two first-half injuries.

Jackson addressed the media post-game, providing further context to the injuries. He specified that Kaltak had “a tweak in his knee”, it was a similar scenario for Kuol, and the club would have to wait and see to find out the severity of each injury after further assessment.