Arnold: "Our boys are ready"

CENTRAL Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold insists his side are well prepared for this Sunday’s sudden death Hyundai A-League Semi-Final against Melbourne Victory at Gosford’s Bluetongue Stadium.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners Head Coach Graham Arnold insists his side are well prepared for this Sunday-s sudden death Hyundai A-League Semi-Final against Melbourne Victory at Gosford-s Bluetongue Stadium.

The yellow and navy returned home from southwest China on Thursday morning following a 2-1 defeat in their AFC Champions League Matchday 4 clash with Chinese Super League side Guizhou Renhe.

But despite the 27 hour, arduous journey from Guiyang to Sydney via Guangzhou, Arnold is adamant his team will be ready for battle against Ange Postecoglou-s side.

“Our boys are ready and they are fit,” Arnold said at the Mariners- Hyundai A-League Finals Series Launch on Friday afternoon. “We have travelled back well and it was a long trip, 27 hours. The boys trained this morning, they are looking very fresh and they won-t need any motivation for Sunday.”

“It is a wonderful occasion to play a Semi-Final at Bluetongue Stadium. We have a very good vocal crowd and I-m calling on all Mariners supporters to turn up on Sunday. It-s important the supporters get behind us, because Melbourne Victory are going to be a tough challenge.”

A hat trick from New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey combined with goals to youngsters Mitchell Duke (2) and Nick Fitzgerald (1) helped Central Coast to a comprehensive 6-2 win over Victory when the sides last met on February 23.

Arnold says he is confident his team can claim another triumph over Postecoglou-s outfit but admits the Mariners need to be wary of some of Melbourne-s danger men.

“Ange has got some quality players, who can be very dangerous such as (Marco) Rojas, (Marcos) Flores, (Archie) Thompson and young Connor Pain, as well as the likes of Mark Milligan in midfield and Nathan Coe, who was only selected in the Socceroos squad last year,” he said.

“It is all about doing what we do best and if we can go out on Sunday and put on our best performance, I am confident we will get the victory.”

Arnold-s men enjoy a strong record at Fortress Bluetongue this campaign with 11 wins, 1 draw only 1 loss, while Melbourne Victory have only been victorious once in their last five meetings with the Mariners at Gosford-s idyllic bayside arena.

The former Qantas Socceroos mentor believes the big game experience many of his players possess will benefit his team at the weekend.

“Over the last three seasons that I-ve been here, we have played in a lot of big games,” he said.

“Every game we play in the Asian Champions League is a big game and we-ve played in Final Series games. Nearly every player has played in a Grand Final, so we-ve got a lot of big match experience and Sunday is just another game.”

The winner of Sunday-s Semi-Final will face Western Sydney Wanderers in the Hyundai A-League Grand Final on Sunday 14 April, 2013 at Sydney-s Allianz Stadium. Kick-off in the Championship decider will be at 4:00pm.

Tony Popovic-s team won their way to the Hyundai A-League decider courtesy of a 2-0 win over Brisbane Roar at Parramatta Stadium on Friday evening.

Qualifying for the Grand Final this Sunday would be the ultimate way to toast an imminent achievement for consistent left back Joshua Rose. The Rockhampton-born flyer is set to play his 100th Hyundai A-League game against Victory.

Central Coast Mariners vs. Melbourne Victory - 2012/13 Hyundai A-League Semi-Final Sunday 14 April, 2013 Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Kick-off: 5:00pm (AEDT) Tickets: Please CLICK HERE to purchase tickets to the match! Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter! The official match hash tag is #CCMvMV. Use #ALeagueFinals and #GoMariners throughout the Finals Series!