The Central Coast Mariners have returned to the training park for the first time today, since Saturday night’s famous Preliminary Final win over Gold Coast, and Head Coach Graham Arnold insists the side is ready to finish the season off with a win in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
The Central Coast Mariners have returned to the training park for the first time today, since Saturday night-s famous Preliminary Final win over Gold Coast, and Head Coach Graham Arnold insists the side is ready to finish the season off with a win in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
“It-s a Grand Final, it-s a one-off game and anything can happen. We will go up there fully confident and prepare for a good performance. It-s going to be a great game and thankfully there-s going to be a massive crowd there and I think that it-s great support for the A-League as well and we are just looking forward to a great game,” said Arnold.
It is business as usual in Mariners camp this week as they prepare for their third Grand Final appearance in six seasons.
“It-s about keeping the pressure off them and it-s just a normal week. I suppose it is a benefit of living on the coast, you-re out of the media spotlight quite a bit and a lot of the media and pressure will be on Brisbane up there because they-ll have a full week of commitments, but overall the boys are light-hearted and they-re ready,” Arnold said.
It was good news for the Yellow and Navy today with influential striker Matt Simon returning to full training after suffering a freak injury on the eve of the club-s Major Semi Final Second leg against the Roar, and the club-s leading goal-scorer is now available for selection in the A-League decider.
The Mariners boss also praised 18-year-old NAB Young Footballer of the Year, Mathew Ryan. The Central Coast goalkeeper has made an impressive debut season in the A-League since his debut against Sydney FC in week four.
“Matty Ryan has had a fabulous year. He got thrown in the deep end in round four and he-s had 13 clean sheets ever since and he-s been growing as the season goes. He-s got a great character, he-s got a good mentality and he-s had a great season so far,” Arnold said.
Central Coast Mariners skipper Alex Wilkinson will be lining up in his 145th Hyundai A-League clash this Sunday afternoon, his third Grand Final, second as Captain, and he knows better than anyone what it takes to perform on the biggest stage of the season. But the 26-year-old “veteran” believes his side has what it takes to make it a third time lucky.
“We have had a fantastic season and if it wasn-t for red hot Brisbane we probably would of been Minor Premiers as well. It-s been a great year by us and it would be nice if we could cap it off with a win on the weekend. We-ll give it every shot up there. It-s going to be tough obviously with a huge crowd supporting the other team but we are going to go up there with nothing to lose,” Wilkinson said.
The Central Coast Mariners next match of the Hyundai A-League 2011 Finals Series will be the 2011 Grand Final against the Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium this Sunday, 13 March. Kick-off is at 4:00pm QST (5:00pm AEDT) and tickets are available online at www.ticketek.com.au or by phoning 132 849.