Mariners hand Wanderers first loss of Isuzu UTE A-League season

Garang Kuol put the finishing touches to his case for FIFA Men’s World Cup selection by starring in the Central Coast Mariners’3-0 defeat of high-flying Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday night.

Kuol, his team-mate Jason Cummings and Western Sydney’s Brandon Borrello all came into the Round 5 contest as chances, but not locks, for inclusion in Graham Arnold’s 26-man Socceroos squad to be announced on Tuesday.

It was 18-year-old super-sub Kuol, who underlined his credentials the most convincingly, twice setting-up fellow substitute Michael Ruhs at CommBank Stadium.

The Mariners wasted opportunities in a goalless first half but Kuol needed only three minutes to break the deadlock after coming on midway through the second period.

The Premier League-bound forward snuck up on and dispossessed ex-Mariner Ruon Tongyik, setting-up Ruhs for a clean shot from inside the box.

Six minutes later the same pair struck again. Kuol crossed to Ruhs, who flirted with offside at point-blank range as he poked the ball into the back of the net. 

Cummings was not as dangerous as in last week’s win over Western United but provided the assist for Samuel Silvera late on to turn what began as a tight tussle into a comfortable victory.

Mariners winger Beni N’Kololo could consider himself lucky to remain on the field after catching Western Sydney’s Calem Nieuwenhof with an elbow to the head as the pair jostled for the ball in the first half.

The Frenchman was shown only a yellow card, much to the anger of Wanderers head coach Marko Rudan.

The loss was the Wanderers’ first from five outings this season and breaks a brilliant run of defensive performances.

Prior to Saturday night, Western Sydney had conceded only one goal in a month of football but are now at risk of dropping out of second spot on the ladder by the end of the weekend.