Mariners must win to keep their slender finals hopes alive at Allianz against a rampant Sydney FC that is tantalisingly close to Premiership silverware.
Friday, 10 March 2017
Sydney FC v Central Coast Mariners
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-Off: 7:50PM (Local) (7:50PM (AEDT))
Referee: Shaun Evans
Assistant Referee 1: Owen Goldrick
Assistant Referee 2: Kearney Robinson
Fourth Official: Jarred Gillett
TV Broadcast: Live coverage on Fox Sports 505 from 7.00pm (AEDT), SBS VICELAND from 7.30pm AEDT and Sky Sport 4 (New Zealand)
Radio Broadcast: ABC Grandstand Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live, Crocmedia A-League Live ( www.facebook.com/A-leagueLIVERadio ), Coast FM 96.3
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #SYDvCCM #FFW
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au
Sydney FC squad: 1.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 4.Alex WILKINSON, 5.Jordy BUIJS, 6.Joshua BRILLANTE, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8.Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9.BOBÔ, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Bernie IBINI, 12.Aaron CALVER, 13.Brandon O’NEILL, 14.Alex BROSQUE (c), 17.David CARNEY, 18.Matt SIMON, 19.George BLACKWOOD, 20.Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 21.Filip HOLOSKO, 23.Rhyan GRANT
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 12.Aaron CALVER (promoted), 19.George BLACKWOOD (promoted)
Unavailable: 22.Seb RYALL (hamstring – 2-3 weeks)
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO, 5.Harry ASCROFT, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9.Roy O’DONOVAN, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 14.Adam BERRY, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Josh BINGHAM, 19.Jacques FATY, 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING, 30.Adam PEARCE (gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 19.Jacques FATY (promoted), 21.Michael NEILL (promoted), 30.Adam PEARCE (gk)
Outs: 20.Paul IZZO (gk) (suspended 1 – match)
Unavailable: 10.Mickael TAVARES (ankle injury – indefinite), 23.Jake ADELSON (ACL – indefinite)
It’s a split round in the Hyundai A-League and we’re in for an intriguing Harvey Norman Friday night clash in the Harbour City.
Sydney FC moved a step closer to the A-League Premiership last weekend, their 1-0 Big Blue triumph over second-placed Melbourne Victory opening up an 11-point gap with just five games to play.
If the Sky Blues can topple the Mariners – and Victory fails to beat Perth Glory 24 hours later – the silverware will be Sydney’s.
Some of their football against Victory was sublime and it was only some wasteful finishing that prevented an even bigger win.
Which spells trouble for a Mariners side which is winless in their last eight meetings with Sydney FC, including a 4-0 drubbing at Allianz back in round 2.
And Central Coast missed a big opportunity to close in on the top six last weekend, losing a five-goal thriller against Melbourne City 3-2.
While coach Paul Okon has refused to rule out his side’s finals aspirations, it’s getting very much down to their last chance.
The Gosford club simply must win this one to keep the pressure on those above them and their task hasn’t been made any easier with in-form keeper Paul Izzo – February’s nominee for the NAB Young Footballer of the Year award - suspended.
Izzo’s red card against City should see ex-Sky Blues gloveman Ivan Necevski get a rare start, while another former Sydney FC man – defender Jacques Faty – has also been promoted to the squad after a lengthy absence.
ROUTE TO GOAL
These two sides could hardly have different set-ups in the front third.
The Sky Blues have been firing on all cylinders since the opening round. They haven’t relied on one player to score their goals with Bobo (11), Brosque (9), Ninkovic (8) and Holosko (6) all chipping in consistently.
Brazilian marquee Bobo is the one who has been the key contributor recently, with his winner against Victory his fourth in his last four starts.
Their narrow midfield set up allows their marauding fullbacks Grant and Zullo to get forward at will, and their overlapping runs and crossing has been a real feature of Sydney’s play.
And you can’t help but salivate at the weapons Arnold has to call-on off the bench. Ibini, Carney, Simon and Dimitrijevic would probably all be starters at most other clubs but have had to settle for the role of impact player.
While Sydney FC have goal threats everywhere, the Mariners have relied on striker Roy O’Donovan.
The Irishman has done his part with 10 goals for the campaign but the next best is Fabio Ferreira with three, underlining Central Coast’s issues in front of goals.
But that doesn’t mean the Mariners are a one-trick pony.
Wingers Connor Pain, Kwabena Appiah and Trent Buhagiar can be dangerous on their day, with speed are able to stretch any defence.
But this is a Sydney rear-guard which has shipped just 11 goals all season - and validating that has seen keeper Vukovic and right-back Grant rewarded with Caltex Socceroos selection for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
WHO’S BEEN IN THE SPOTLIGHT THIS WEEK
Danny Vukovic and Rhyan Grant. The Sky Blues defender is enjoying his best-ever season in the Hyundai A-League and was rewarded this week his first Caltex Socceroos call-up alongside big Vuko. A big game here for both could lock-up spots in the final 23-man squad for games against Iraq and UAE.
FORM LINES (last five games)
Sydney FC: DWLWW
Sydney FC 3-0 Central Coast Mariners