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Apr 22, 2013

Mariners win ends special chapter for club

Central Coast say their maiden A-League title is even more special as it marks the "end of an era", with a clutch of key players having likely played their last domestic game for the club.

Talented youngsters Bernie Ibini, Trent Sainsbury and Mathew Ryan have agents knocking down the door to offer them contracts abroad.

The future of the team's veterans is also uncertain with 38-year-old Patrick Zwaanswijk and 36-year-old Daniel McBreen - who became the two oldest goal scorers in a grand final in Sunday's 2-0 win over Western Sydney - along with Mile Sterjovski, 33, now off contract.

"We were all aware that this was going to be an end of an era," Sainsbury told AAP on Monday before boarding the Mariners' 9am flight to South Korea for Tuesday's Asian Champions League clash.

"Hutch (captain John Hutchinson) gave a few motivational words before the game in the huddle and said this might be the last time all us boys play together (in the A-League).

"So it kind of hit home a little bit and it did make things more emotional for all of us."

Sainsbury revealed he would be happy to consider offers from aboard but said: "I'm just happy to keep plugging away at the Mariners for now."

Arnold however seemed resigned to Sainsbury leaving saying it would be the right move for him, Ibini and Ryan.

"I really think those three have pretty much reached the maximum in terms of development here in Australia," Arnold said.

"So if they want to be Socceroos then they need to go to another level.

"Playing 27 (A-League) games a year is not enough so they probably need to go overseas where they play 40-odd games."

As for the older players, McBreen has made it clear he wants nothing more than to stay at the Mariners while Sterjovski says he'll sit down with Arnold once the ACL commitments are done.

Zwaanswijk on the other hand is likely to shift to the Mariners' coaching staff.

"I'm really thinking about stopping and ending on a high and going into coaching maybe to become the next Tony Popovic, the next Graham Arnold," he said.

"We're talking about it at the moment and it looks 99 per cent sure I'm going to stay with the Mariners for a long time."

As for Arnold, who has one year left on his contract.

"I set a goal when I signed the three-year deal to win a grand final," he said.

"I'm very happy at the moment and don't want to go to another A-League club at this moment in time."

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