Okon: F3 Derby to decide Mariners' finals hopes

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There is plenty of expectation this week's F3 Derby will be one of the biggest in years and Central Coast's coach also thinks it will be critical

Central Coast Mariners coach Paul Okon has claimed the finals hopes of both his side and Newcastle Jets will be on the line in Sunday's F3 Derby.

The Mariners will head north to McDonald Jones Stadium sitting ninth in the A-League table and start Round 21 five points adrift of sixth-placed Western Sydney Wanderers.

Newcastle are seventh and three points behind Western Sydney, and Okon reckons neither Central Coast nor the Jets can afford to lose this weekend if they want to finish the regular season in the top six and qualify for the finals.

"It comes at a time for both clubs where if they have any hopes of making the finals, it's a game that both teams will want to win," Okon said on Friday.

"It should have that derby feeling to it; atmosphere, contest and hopefully we can travel up there on Sunday, perform and send our travelling supporters home with a smile on their face."

Full-blooded F3 Derby expected - Hoffman

Central Coast suffered their first loss in four matches last week as they succumbed 3-0 to visiting Melbourne Victory.

The Mariners had won three straight games before the Victory clash but Okon insisted he was fairly happy with his side's performance against the Big V.

"We don't feel like we took a step backwards," Central Coast's boss said.

"It wasn't our best performance, we realise that. Melbourne Victory is one of the top sides in the country.

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"We've had a good week of training and we go into this derby full of confidence."

The Mariners are on a six-game winless run in the F3 Derby.


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