Central Coast Mariners young gun Bernie Ibini is relishing the return home on Sunday when the A-League leaders travel to Western Sydney.
The Nigeria-born striker, who has spent most of his 20 years living in Sydney’s west, regularly makes the 75-minute journey along the New South Wales coast to Bluetongue Stadium.
But the commute will be drastically shorter on Sunday as Graham Arnold’s men do battle with this season’s surprise packets at Parramatta Stadium, something the Australian youth international is looking forward to.
“It’s always nice playing those Sydney teams, as I am a Sydney boy,” the 20-year-old said.
“The RBB (Red and Black Bloc) are a great crowd and I am looking forward to the atmosphere that will be at the field on Sunday.
Western Sydney are unbeaten in five games, having claimed the scalps of championship hopefuls Melbourne Victory and high-flying Adelaide United in recent weeks.
The Wanderers’ 2-1 triumph over Victory on New Year’s Day moved them into third position on goal difference but Ibini is hopeful of ending that streak.
“They (Western Sydney Wanderers) are definitely a team that is in form,” he said.
“But hopefully we can beat them at the weekend and keep our buffer at the top of the table.”
The Mariners are two points clear on top of the table thanks to Ibini’s 68th-minute winner against Perth Glory on Monday.
However, the youngster has been confined to a substitute’s role this season, with seven of his 14 appearances coming from the bench.
And while Ibini would ideally like to start more often, he is happy to perform when called upon.
“I think every player wants to try and start as many games as possible,” he said.
“But it’s up to the coach at the end of the day and if he’s happy for me to start on the bench or start the game, whichever one it doesn’t matter to me.
“I just try to go out there and do my best each and every game.”