Sat August 11, 2012 1:53am
CENTRAL COAST MARINERS will spend next week in Noumea helping the New Caledonia national team prepare for their forthcoming World Cup qualifier against New Zealand. The Mariners will be the third A-League team to embark on an overseas tour during the pre-season.
''It's a great trip for us … two games against quality opposition, and a good chance for the boys to get away and bond,'' Mariners football director Lawrie McKinna said.
With Perth Glory having recently returned from a three-match trip to South Africa, and Wellington Phoenix about to go to India for a four-game tour, the Mariners' trip to New Caledonia is another opportunity for the A-League to showcase itself abroad. The French territory has previously hosted the now-defunct Gold Coast United.
New Caledonia recently upset New Zealand in the Oceania Nations Cup semi-final, and ''Les Cagous'' are an improving force in Oceania football. ''I know 'Arnie' [Graham Arnold] is delighted that he's getting two tough games,'' McKinna said.
New Caledonia will host the All Whites at the Stade Numa Daly on September 7, and will play its two games with the Mariners next week.
''The fact that these foreign associations, and these foreign clubs, are prepared to pay the expenses of these trips proves how far the credibility of the A-League has come,'' McKinna said.
Apart from the three clubs travelling abroad, several A-League clubs are also set to play a series of trial matches in regional areas. While Football Federation Australia has controversially axed the core of the ''community round'' series after just one season, forthcoming pre-season matches in Ipswich, Weston, Hobart, Launceston, Tamworth, Lismore, Mackay, Christchurch, Kawana Waters and Palmerston North will help to soften the blow. The FFA has fixtured only three competitions to regional areas this season: Campbelltown, Dunedin and Launceston.
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