The nation’s capital hosts Central Coast Mariners and Wellington Phoenix with both sides eyeing back-to-back wins at GIO Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Mariners notched their first win of the season last weekend - against the reigning champions in Adelaide no less – and will fancy their chances of making it two on the trot against a Phoenix side depleted by international call ups.
What's more, Central Coast were unbeaten against the Phoenix last season (2W, 1D).
The Mariners are a much improved side under Paul Okon. The mix of youth and experience is starting to click. And the team have more steel and belief.
The recent signing of defender Scott Galloway has been a valuable addition, while midfielder Mickael Tavares boasts the best passing accuracy of any player in the league.
Last weekend, Wellington bounced back from their drubbing at the hands of Victory with their first win of the campaign against the Jets – which included their first outfield goals in the 2016/17 Season.
Sadly for them, they’ll have to do it without five of their All Whites who are taking on New Caledonia during the international break.
Merrick has already used 20 players throughout the first five rounds of the season, the equal highest of any club, and he’ll need to see a few of his fringe players to stand up if they’re to take any points home from Canberra.
Paolo in the press
"Every A-League game, both teams have the incentive to win the game," Okon said. "For us it's really important because we've been putting in some really good performances.
"Last week we were awarded three points. We hope tomorrow's game delivers the same thing. We want to build momentum, it's a big thing in the A-League with it being a 10-team competition.
"If you can get on an undefeated run for a number of games you see yourself moving up the ladder. We do take each game as it comes, I don't think we're at a stage now where we can already start making calculations from our next few games.
"But certainly tomorrow's game is a game that we desperately want to win. The team they put out will be a strong side, a very, very competitive side and we expect to have a really tough game."
"As the actors in the movie, so to speak, they have a responsibility on the field to get the people interested and excited," the coach said.
"It's the football that we want to play, regardless of if we're doing it at home or on the road. It's home for us here tomorrow, even though there's a couple of hours that separates Gosford and Canberra. We hope we get some real support.
"We're very excited, especially after getting our first win last weekend. We know that Canberra is a city that loves football, we've seen that historically. We come to Canberra, it's our second home away from Gosford.
"We've had our past couple of pre-seasons here. We were only here two months ago so the connection with the Canberra community has been great for us and we hope tomorrow to get another win, but most of all, put in a good performance in front of what we hope will be a very good crowd."
ROUTE TO GOAL
Interestingly, all six of the Mariners goals this season have been scored in the second-half. Striker Roy O’Donovan leads the scoring charts for the Central Coast with three and he continues to be the primary outlet up front - but he’ll need support.
Connor Pain did just that last weekend with a spectacular winner, while experienced campaigner Fabio Ferreria would surely love to open his account for the season.
Phoenix will be without Kosta Barbarouses and Michael McGlinchey fso a lot of the attacking responsibility will rest on the shoulders of Gui Finkler and Roy Krishna.
- Central Coast Mariners are undefeated in their last three games against Wellington, winning each of the last two games by a score of 3-1.
- Wellington Phoenix have conceded 11 goals in their last three games away from home, scoring only one goal in return.
- The Mariners have now taken competition points from each of their last two games (W1, D1), the last time they went three games without loss was in January 2015 (W1, D2).
- Wellington got back in the winner’s circle last weekend and will now be looking for consecutive victories for the first time since October 2015.
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Scott GALLOWAY, 6.Blake POWELL, 7.Fabio FERREIRA, 8.Nick MONTGOMERY (c), 9.Roy O”DONOVAN, 10.Mickael TAVARES, 11.Connor PAIN, 12.Trent BUHAGIAR, 13.Kwabena APPIAH, 14.Adam BERRY, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Josh BINGHAM, 19.Jacques FATY, 20.Paul IZZO (gk), 21.Michael NEILL, 22.Jake McGING
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 13.Kwabena APPIAH (promoted), 17.Josh BINGHAM (promoted)
Unavailable: 4.Jacob POSCOLIERO (quad strain – 1 week), 23.Jake ADELSON (ACL – indefinite)
Wellington Phoenix squad: 2.Jacob TRATT, 4.Roly BONEVACIA, 5.Ryan LOWRY,6.Dylan FOX, 7.Gui FINKLER, 8.Alex RODRIGUEZ, 11.Hamish WATSON, 13.Marco ROSSI, 14.Alex RUFER, 15.James McGARRY, 17.Vince LIA (c), 18.Ben LITFIN, 20.Lewis ITALIANO (gk), 21.Roy KRISHNA, 23.Matthew RIDENTON, 24.Logan ROGERSON, 30.Oliver SAIL (gk)
**one to be omitted**
Ins: 6.Dylan FOX (returns from suspension), 15.James MCGARRY (promoted), 18.Ben LITFIN (promoted), 23.Matthew RIDENTON (promoted), 24.Logan ROGERSON (promoted), 30.Oliver SAIL (gk) (promoted)
Outs: 1.Glen MOSS (gk) (international duty), 9.Kosta BARBAROUSES (international duty), 10.Michael MCGLINCHEY (international duty), 16.Louis FENTON (international duty), 22.Andrew DURANTE (international duty)
Unavailable: 12.Adam PARKHOUSE (hamstring – 1-2 weeks), 19.Tom DOYLE (hamstring – 1-2 weeks)
Saturday 12 November 2016
Canberra United vs. Melbourne City (Westfield W-League)
Central Coast Mariners vs. Wellington Phoenix (Hyundai A-League)
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-offs: 3:00pm & 5:35pm (local time)
Official hash-tags: #CCMvWEL & #CCMFC
TV Broadcast: Fox Sports 505
Radio Broadcast: 96.3 Coast FM