Mariners focussed on job at hand

Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold says there has been absolutely no talk of a potential Hyundai A-League Grand Final clash with Brisbane Roar, as the side prepares for its must win Preliminary Final against Gold Coast United at Bluetongue Stadium tomorrow night.

Central Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold says there has been absolutely no talk of a potential Hyundai A-League Grand Final clash with Brisbane Roar, as the side prepares for its must win Preliminary Final against Gold Coast United at Bluetongue Stadium tomorrow night.

A place in the Grand Final, and qualification for the 2012 AFC Asian Champions League are the prizes on offer for the victor of arguably the biggest game at Bluetongue since the Yellow and Navy last qualified for the season-s decider back in 2008, and Arnold says the focus this week has been on keeping everything as normal as possible.

It-s been business as usual,” said Arnold.

“We have had a good week of training and the boys are happy and upbeat, so its been a good week overall.

Straight after the Brisbane game we moved on. We put in two very good performances against Brisbane and we are good for. We dominated, I feel, for periods against Brisbane. As I said to the boys, that-s football, at the end of the day I don-t look at the result in Brisbane that much, because we were chasing the game for 3-1.

“Overall, the boys are in really good spirits and we-re not mentioning Brisbane at all, because the Grand Final is a long way away, we-re not even thinking about it, all we-re thinking about is tomorrow night, and we-ve had a very good preparation for the game tomorrow night after the two tough games we-ve had against Brisbane.”

The Mariners can take some heart out of a 3-1 victory over Gold Coast the last time the two sides met less than a month ago, where youngsters Bernie Ibini Isei, Mustafa Amini and Mitchell Duke all scored debut goals for the club.

They (Gold Coast) were at the end of a heavy period as well so on that night I felt we could use the younger players with some fresh legs, and it was a great night. Gold Coast don-t change the way they play, we know their system, we know their strengths and weaknesses and it will get down to who is better on the night and the individual quality.

“We-re up against a very difficult, resilient team. Miron (Bleiberg) has openly said they have had to change the way they play, not to be so open and be more defensive, and they work extremely hard and have had two great results in the finals series.

“It-s going to be a very difficult game but this is our home game, this is our fortress and our form here has been very good all year so there is no reason for us not to go into the game feeling confident.

“We ended up 11 points ahead of them in the normal competition so we must be doing something right during the competition, and that-s what I-ve said to the boys, it-s about us, it-s not about what Gold Coast do,” said Arnold.

There will be at least one change to the Mariners line-up from the side that held the Roar to a 2-all draw at Suncorp Stadium, with Pedj Bojic suspended for the clash, while Matt Simon is hoping to have recovered from a cut on his foot in time to take part.

“Matty is getting there, it will be a match-day decision. Hopefully we can have him on the bench if he feels up to it.

“We-re still deciding whether to bring Trent Sainsbury in (at right-back in place of Pedj Bojic) who did exceptionally well against them up on the Gold Coast and who plays regularly at right-back, or we can move Alex Wilkinson out there and drop Rostyn Griffiths into the backline, but whoever plays will be ready,” Arnold said.

Captain Alex Wilkinson will be aiming to qualify for his third Grand Final in Mariners colours, and says the entire squad is desperate to bring that to the Central Coast people, and hopes a huge crowd gets to Bluetongue Stadium tomorrow night to help the side to victory.

“I hope so. They have been great all year, we have got a fantastic supporter base and for the amount of people we have got on the Coast I think our crowds have been fantastic. Last week against Brisbane we had 10-thousand so if we could get a couple more the atmosphere would be brilliant, and a real 12th man for the boys,” said Wilkinson.

The Central Coast Mariners next match of the Hyundai A-League 2011 Finals Series will be against Gold Coast United in the Preliminary Final at bluetongue Stadium this Saturday, 5 March. Kick-off is at 7:00pm AEDT and tickets are available at or by phoning 132 849.

Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 3, FS3 HD and Sky Sports 3 (NZ). Hyundai A-League partner is 96.3 Coast FM (Gosford).

Head-to-Head: All matches (played 6): Central Coast Mariners wins 2, Gold Coast United wins 2 (2 draws)

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Mathew RYAN (gk), 2. Daniel McBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 10. Patricio PEREZ, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Matthew LEWIS, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. Matt SIMON, 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 24. Bernie IBINI ISEI, 30. Paul HENDERSON (gk).
*one to be omitted*

In: Matthew LEWIS (promoted), Trent SAINSBURY (promoted), Matt SIMON (return from injury)
Out: Chris DOIG (released), Pedj BOJIC (suspended – 1 week)
Unavailable: Michael BAIRD (knee – 1 week), Brad PORTER (knee – 4 weeks), Nik MRDJA (knee – season), Jess VANSTRATTAN (knee – season)

Gold Coast United: 1.Glen MOSS [gk], 2.Steve PANTELIDIS, 3.Michael THWAITE (c), 6.Dino DJULBIC, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 8.ANDERSON, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 11.Bruce DJITE, 13.Bas VAN DEN BRINK, 14.Joel PORTER, 15.Tahj MINNIECON, 16.Kristian REES, 19.Andrew BARISIC, 20.Scott HIGGINS [gk], 22.Adama TRAORE, 23.Steve FITZSIMMONS, 24.John CURTIS, 26.Ben HALLORAN, 27.Chris HAROLD, 33.Peter PERCHTOLD
*four to be omitted*

In: Adama TRAORE (return from quad injury), Steve FITZSIMMONS (promoted), Ben HALLORAN (promoted), Chris HAROLD (promoted)
Out: Nil.
Unavailable: Jason CULINA (knee injury – season), ROBSON (hamstring injury – 2 weeks), Daniel PIORKOWSKI (ankle injury – indefinite), Matt OSMAN (knee injury – season).

Referee: Strebre Delovski