Kyah Simon daring to believe in Mariners ALW fairytale

Kyah Simon has found her belief again.

The Matildas stalwart believes A-League Women underdogs Central Coast Mariners can go all the way.

And now, finally, she believes her body can hold up to help them get there.

Simon was contentiously picked for last year's Matildas' Women's World Cup squad, despite having not played since tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in October 2022.

Multiple setbacks meant she never appeared in her home tournament, then missed a large chunk of the Mariners' first season back in the league.

But after a slow build through this year's campaign, Simon played a full 120 minutes in the Mariners' gutsy elimination-final win on penalties over Melbourne Victory which set-up a two-legged semi-final against Sydney FC.

"That's the most minutes I've played since getting back so it felt good," she said.

"It's massive. I still try to appreciate those small wins. 

"If we need to go into more extra-time - hopefully not - at least I know that my body is capable."

Renowned spot-kick specialist Simon was down to take the fifth penalty against Victory - but wasn't required due to teammate Casey Dumont's heroics in goal.

Simon joked she was "a little disappointed" not to step up.

But she has relished every minute of reuniting with the team she started her career at more than 15 years ago, under impressive first-year coach Emily Husband.

"I couldn't be prouder of this group. A lot of the girls were either in teams that they weren't getting many minutes or in different parts of the globe and Em's brought us together as a team," Simon said. 

"I wouldn't want to play for any other team in this league this season. We're just such a united group."

Simon, 32, has experienced success at Sydney FC - who she will face in Gosford on Sunday - and Melbourne City but admitted a Mariners triumph would be hard to beat.

"I've been a part of teams in the past: Melbourne City, Sydney FC ... and we didn't really have that much pressure because we had a team that everyone just expected to win," she said.

"Whereas we've got a team now that no one put money on to win. 

"We've got a great group of girls and I'm really proud to be here at the Mariners.

"Full circle moment - as I said from the day that I signed - and really proud to wear this jersey and this crest on my chest."

Simon hasn't closed the door on pushing for a national team return, either.

"The goal is always to get back to that level," Simon said.

"But (I'm) just taking each game as it comes and appreciating and enjoying the ride."

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