After a week off watching the elimination finals, Central Coast Mariners head coach Nick Montgomery is ready for a massive first leg against Adelaide United this Saturday night.
The weekend off was an important time to recover and refresh for the side after a massive five matches following the international break. They were however training as normal, ensuring that they are fully prepared for this upcoming fixture.
“It’s definitely been good to have the weekend off. I have said it before, an opportunity to get knocked out in an elimination one off game, to avoid that is a testament to the boys,” he said.
“Finishing second has meant that we got the weekend off, give a few boys a little bit more time to recover. We trained hard as usual last week, and we’ll train as normal this week going into Saturday’s game.”
It was a magnificent night when we faced off against Adelaide a few weekends ago, with the Mariners walking away with a dominant 4-1 victory. That result was enough to secure the side second place and AFC Cup football, however Montgomery and the team have now fully transferred their focus to this Saturday’s match.
“They were hungry for it last time, there was a lot on the line when we played a couple of weeks ago, second place was on the line for us, for them and for Western Sydney. That’s gone now, it’s in the past and this is now finals, sort of a cup competition,” Montgomery said.
“They are at home, no doubt they’ll come out firing. We’ll go there looking to win the game. Nothing’s going to change in the way that we approach the game. All the boys are looking forward to the final series.”
Despite a couple of tough results for the home side before their elimination final win over Wellington Phoenix, our head coach knows that Adelaide deserve respect. In front of what will be a big home crowd at Coopers Stadium, Montgomery expects a serious challenge.
“It’s just another game, we don’t look at their games in the past. Looking at the whole season we have had some very, very good performances, the game against them was one of them. We will go there again looking to do the same thing,” he said.
“Adelaide is a very, very good team. They’ve got some very good players. We’ll prepare as normal and we’ll give them the respect that we always give. We will prepare for the game and the game plan as we did last time and as we do for every game, so nothing changes. For us, it’s two separate games, so we’ll just approach each game as it comes.”
The side will certainly not be sitting back come this weekend, with Montgomery not wanting to change what has worked all season. He expects an exciting match up, knowing that Adelaide will also be going out to get a result.
“We’ve gone out to win every game this season. We go out to attack and win games of football. You sit back and defend for 90 minutes you are never going to win the game of football,” he said.
“They’ve got a pretty similar approach and you see that in the stats in terms of goals scored and stuff this year. It’s got all the ingredients for what could be an exciting game. We go there full of confidence and look forward to Saturday night.”
With the youngest squad in the competition, Montgomery is confident that the side can continue to get the job done.
Despite their young age the side do have experience in both the league and in big matches, having played in the Australia Cup final and A-League finals last season. Our head coach is proud of what the side has done so far, excited to see what they can do in the finals series.
“For a lot of the players last year was their first year in professional football. To get to finals and the Australia Cup Final, they’ve had some big experiences and they understand what pressure is. We’ve put them under pressure, I told them going into Adelaide last game that this is what’s on the line boys, you have to perform,” he said.
“If you want to go to Asian football and you want to finish second in the competition and go direct to semi-finals, you have to win the game. I was really proud that I could put that pressure on the boys. They might be young but their experience, a lot of them have got 20 or 30 plus A-League games under the belt and this year again they are more experienced.”