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Jan, 8, 2012

Mariners on their way to best: Zwaanswijk

Dutch import Patrick Zwaanswijk feels A-League pacesetters Central Coast Mariners are well on their way to becoming the best team in the country.

Their 1-0 win over Sydney FC at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday stretched their unbeaten run to 12 games and put them eight points clear at the top of the ladder.

They now sit on 33 points, with a game in hand over Brisbane, who sit on 25 points with Melbourne Heart.

Zwaanswijk, who has played 11 seasons in the Dutch top-flight and two in Japan's J-League, says coach Graham Arnold has a massive part to play in the team's mindset.

"I see it from the inside but you all see it from the outside. It's amazing what Arnie's done with this team," the 36-year-old defender said.

"Not just football-wise but the mentality as well. The boys are always giving their best ... they work hard and show up everyday with a smile on their face and that's the hardest part of football.

"I've played for a few years, I've never seen boys in the team looking as happy as our boys and that says everything about our team."

While the Mariners played a near-perfect opening half against the struggling Sky Blues, who slumped to their third straight loss, they were far from their best in the second stanza.

Arnold, who admitted he was not happy after the match, was left demanding more from his players who let opportunities to put the game firmly out of Sydney's reach go begging.

And while Zwaanswijk agreed they let errors creep into their game in the second half, he knows one of the team's strengths is being able to win even when they're not playing their best.

"That's what they say about the best teams in the world - they win when they're not playing very well," Zwaanswijk said.

"I'm not saying we're one of the best teams in the world but we're getting to be one of the best teams in Australia.

"We're very proud of what we've achieved to this point but it's not the end yet... there's still a long way to go."

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