Mariners up to challenge - Abbotsford Times

Seasoned soccer coach believes his talented squad is up to the task By Cam Tucker If one thing is for sure, it's that Abbotsford Mariners head coach Alan Errington knows his soccer. He has seen it all as an assistant coach with Canada's National Team from 1986 through to 1996, as a head coach with the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades CIS men's soccer team, and as a color commentator for the Vancouver Whitecaps Football Club. The list could go on and on. So you know that when he says, "this is the best Abbotsford Mariners team I've seen on paper," that he's telling the truth. "We have a good mix of players from the Abbotsford Club and guys who have played pro or semi pro football, so it looks like a good team," said Errington before Saturday's season opener to the Victoria Highlanders at Bateman Park. "But, until we go up against the opposition, we really won't know how good we are," Errington said, adding that the first two games of the season against Victoria and the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency will provide a good test for his team. After finishing the 2008 Premier Development League with just five wins, eight losses and three draws and placing sixth in the Northwest Division, the Mariners were able to go out and recruit Diaz Kambere and Stefan Leslie, who were donning the blue and white for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC a year ago. The acquisition has helped compliment the skill of 23-year-old hometown hero Brad Peetoom, who competed for the Canadian Olympic men's soccer team, according to the head coach. "Both of these players are what we call seasoned pros," said Errington. "They bring a lot of experience at a high level and it's a credit to the Abbotsford Club to bring in players of that quality." "There are some really good strikers coming to the team in Cam Wilson and Rizal Ganief, and they look very confident," Errington continued. "They work very well off of each other," he said of the two 22-year-olds. Amidst all the enthusiasm to the start of the season for the coach and team, however, the injury bug has shown up earlier than expected, as the Mariners had to deal with the loss of veteran Adrian Kekec to a broken collarbone, suffered during a training session. "This is a huge loss for us," Errington said. "Adrian is a very good player and is a threat to score, but one man's fall is another man's opportunity." Despite the injury to Kekec, who scored five goals in just four games and only 360 minutes played for the Mariners last season, the head coach has his sights set on making it to the playoffs this season. "Being realistic, we have to be good enough to make the playoffs and then once you get into the playoffs, it is just one game at a time," Errington said. "We're confident and optimistic about this season. I'd be disappointed if we didn't make it to the playoffs." © Abbotsford Times 2009