ASTUTE Central Coast Mariners mentor Graham Arnold believes his team holds a distinct advantage over Ian Ferguson’s Perth Glory outfit heading into Saturday’s Grand Final Qualifier at Bluetongue Stadium.
ASTUTE Central Coast Mariners mentor Graham Arnold believes his team holds a distinct advantage over Ian Ferguson-s Perth Glory outfit heading into Saturday-s Grand Final Qualifier at Bluetongue Stadium.
According to Arnold, the Mariners- experience in high-pressure, high-stakes football is set to play a decisive factor in the penultimate game of the Hyundai A-League season, as the yellow and navy bid to book their place in back-to-back competition deciders at the expense of the purple-whites.
“We-ve already played a Grand Final,” Arnold said. “We had Wellington which was a Grand Final because we had to win to win the Premiership Plate. Every game in the AFC Champions League is like a Grand Final.”
“We-ve got quite a bit of experience in high pressure games now, especially over the last couple of months, so we-ll be ready for it.”
Indeed, the 2011/12 Hyundai A-League Coach of the Year believes all the nerves will sit in the stomachs of Glory players pre-match as their comparative lack of big game experience dawns on them in the dressing room.
With the potential for nervous energy to be expended throughout this period, Arnold reckons his side has the skill, structure and stamina to tame their rivals.
“They-ve got a lot of experienced players in their team but they don-t have the most experience as a team,” he said. “I think that-s where we should have the advantage.”
“More of the nerves will be on their players, especially in two ex-Mariners in Danny Vukovic and Dean Heffernan that haven-t had too much finals series experience in the last few years.”
Arnold also said that he hoped that Vukovic had been misquoted in the press this week, as reports suggested the former Mariners fan favourite had labelled the Mariners' faithful as one of the competitions- least feared crowds.
“It-s sad that Vuka (Vukovic) would come out and say something like that,” Arnold said. “For him to have a go at our supporters is a bit disrespectful.”
Indeed, Arnold moved to describe Central Coast fans as ‘loyal- and said that in his time at the club they had always been very supportive of him personally.
Hyundai A-League Preliminary Final - Central Coast Mariners vs. Perth Glory Saturday 14 April - Kick-off: 5pm Tickets: Please CLICK HERE for ticketing information. Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter! The official match hash-tag is #HALccmpg. Add #GoMariners and #ALeagueFinals to your tweets if you have room! Line-ups: Please CLICK HERE to download your complimentary team sheet.