GRAHAM Arnold says it's business as usual for the Mariners in the lead up to Sunday's 2012/13 Hyundai A-League Grand Final against Western Sydney Wanderers.
CENTRAL Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold insists it-s business as usual in the Mariners camp this week as the yellow and navy prepare for this Sunday-s Hyundai A-League Grand Final against Western Sydney Wanderers at Allianz Stadium.
“We have tried to keep the week as normal as possible,” he said at the Mariners- open training session at the Club-s Centre of Excellence on Thursday. “We are looking forward to the match. It-s a one-off game, I expect it to be a tight match but we will be prepared. It-s just a matter of going out there and executing our game plan and doing what we do best.”
The Mariners boss praised the effort shown by his side to reach the Finals Series decider and says he is confident his team can claim their first ever Hyundai A-League Championship before jetting off on Monday for AFC Champions League Matchday 5 in Korea Republic.
“We-ve had some tough times here over the last few months and we came through that with flying colours, it shows the strength, the mentality and the character of this group of players. I-m very confident and have great belief that these players can handle anything that is thrown at them,” he said.
The yellow and navy will be without tough defensive midfielder Nick Montgomery for Sunday-s encounter after he received his marching orders in last weekend-s Semi-Final against Melbourne Victory. Meanwhile, Dutch midfielder Youssouf Hersi will be missing from Tony Popovic-s line-up as he also serves a suspension.
“It-s a loss to lose a player like ‘Monty-, but they have lost Hersi, so you can say it is one-all in those counts. Fortunately, we have a lot of depth in our squad. We-ve shown in the last six weeks when I-ve had to use every player to handle the load of the Asian Champions League as well as the A-League, any player can step in and do their job,” he said.
“We-ve got Oli Bozanic, who was the under-23 Olympic captain and we have also got Anthony Caceres, who has performed very well. We also have the option of putting (Trent) Sainsbury in there and moving Zac Anderson in for him. I-m not concerned, these things happen in sport but it-s unlucky for Monty that he-s missing out on the biggest game of the season.”
Arnold believes the Mariners- big game experience may just give them the edge over Popovic-s men and says his side remain focused on the task at hand.
“We have a lot of experience, we-ve been there before. Over the last three seasons since I-ve been here, we-ve had a Grand Final (against Brisbane Roar) and last year-s Preliminary Final, as well as 10 ACL games with these players. We have 12 players with Grand Final experience, as well as players that have played in Europe and players who have played for the national team, it-s just another game of football for them,” he said.
A bumper crowd is expected at Allianz Stadium for the Hyundai A-League decider against Western Sydney with tickets selling out after being released to the general public on Wednesday morning.
“We are all looking forward to the experience. A full house at Allianz, and with the atmosphere the Wanderers fans bring and hopefully good numbers from the Mariners supporters, it should be a fantastic day for the A-League,” Arnold concluded.
2012/13 Hyundai A-League Grand Final - Western Sydney Wanderers vs. Central Coast Mariners Sunday 21 April, 2013 Allianz Stadium, Sydney Kick-off: 4:00pm Twitter: The official hash-tag for the 2012/13 Hyundai A-League Grand Final is #ALeagueGF. Add #GoMariners to support Graham Arnold-s men in the decider!