Soccer

Coach says too many foreigners in A-League

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SYDNEY (AP)

Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold says there are too many foreign players in the A-League, but acknowledges marquee stars like Alessandro Del Piero have taken the competition ''to another level.''

Arnold said Sunday his Mariners, who clinched their first A-League title last weekend, are probably the only club prioritizing local talent over foreign imports.

''All other clubs need to follow suit because it's damaging the national team,'' Arnold said ahead of the Mariners' home Asian Champions League match with Japan's Kashima Reysol on Tuesday.

''The Socceroos, at the moment, if you talk to (national coach) Holger (Osieck) he has trouble picking any players because there's too many foreigners in the A-League, in my view. You've only got nine (Australian) teams in the A-League and one ... New Zealand team (Phoenix).

''If every team has five foreigners that's 45 field players that take the pitch every week that are foreign and only 45 Australians. It's not that many players for national teams to choose from.''

But Arnold had a different opinion of high-profile imports such as former Juventus star Del Piero (Sydney FC) and ex-England international Emile Heskey (Newcastle), and stressed he was not suggesting a limit on imported players.

''Del Piero and Heskey, they've taken the league to another level,'' Arnold said. ''Those type of players, they're welcomed in this country.''



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