Central Coast Mariners skipper Alex Wilkinson says his team won’t be using the stifling heat expected in Perth on Sunday as an excuse for a below-par performance against Ian Ferguson’s Glory outfit.
Central Coast Mariners skipper Alex Wilkinson says his team won-t be using the stifling heat expected in Perth on Sunday as an excuse for a below-par performance against Ian Ferguson-s Glory outfit.
Indeed, the long-time Central Coast captain is eager to ensure his side's standards don't slip following their solid AFC Champions League start away from home during the week.
The Mariners landed in the West Australian capital from China at 10:30pm local time on Friday following an arduous journey via Hong Kong which included a longer than anticipated bus transit from Teda to Beijing on Thursday.
Stuck in Beijing-s bumper-to-bumper traffic for nearly two hours, the players' recovery and anticipated free-time in the Chinese capital had already been decreased after their bus driver had gotten lost in the initial stages of the journey.
And, having spent the past five days in temperatures ranging between minus three and five degrees Celsius, the yellow and navy will also have to deal with a sizeable shift in conditions when they aim to claim their third win over the purple-whites this campaign. Thermometers around Glory-s nib Stadium are expected to touch 40 degrees when Graham Arnold-s team step out for kick-off at 4:30pm local time.
“It-s going to make it tough, there-s no doubt about it,” Wilkinson said when asked of the weather likely to confront the team. “We-ve been in zero degrees the last five days and then to go and play a game in Perth under 39 degree heat at 4:30pm in the afternoon is probably not the smartest thing to do.
“But we-re not going to use it as an excuse. Perth have got to play in it as well and we-ve just got to put up with it. We-re going to focus on getting three points and getting ourselves in a good position for the last couple of games,” he said.
Wilkinson - who spent part of the Hyundai A-League off-season on-loan to Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Sainty - added that the squad had pulled up well from Wednesday-s 0-0 draw with Tianjin Teda in the AFC Champions League. The stalemate got the Mariners- Group G campaign off to a solid start in front of a partisan home crowd. Nevertheless, the experienced captain said attention within the camp had already switched back to the Hyundai A-League.
“I thought the crowd was really good - quite vocal,” he said. “Obviously it was great to have some of our own fans travel over, it was great to see some yellow in the crowd and some Mariners jerseys in the crowd - it was a fantastic effort from them.”
“It was great to play our first game in Asia and I thought the boys did extremely well, but the focus is back on the A-League for the next couple of weeks.”
Wilkinson believes Glory can continue to deal with recent the loss of influential players Mile Sterjovski and Adam Hughes to Chinese football.
“They-ve got a bit of momentum lately, Perth,” he said. “Mile-s been a big part of that and Hughesy-s chipped in with a few goals here and there, so they-re two pretty important players so obviously that-s going to have an impact.
“But they-ve got a bit of depth in their squad and they won last week without them both and I-m sure they-ll be fine, they-ve got the players to cover it,” he concluded.
Perth Glory: 1.Danny Vukovic (Gk), 2.Josh Mitchell, 3.Bas Van Den Brink, 4.Billy Mehmet, 5.Steve Pantelidis, 7.Jacob Burns (C), 9.Shane Smeltz 10.Liam Miller 13.Travis Dodd, 14.Steven McGarry, 15.Tommy Amphlett, 17.Todd Howarth, 18. Jesse Makarounas, 19. Josh Risdon, 20. Neil Young, 22.Adam Taggart, 27.Andrezinho, 35. Dean Heffernan *Three to be omitted*
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew Ryan (gk), 2. Daniel McBreen, 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7. John Hutchinson, 9. Bernie Ibini, 10. Adriano Pellegrino, 11. Oliver Bozanic, 12. Troy Hearfield, 14. Michael McGlinchey, 15. Brad McDonald, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 17. Tomas Rogic, 18. Alex Wilkinson (C), 19. John Sutton, 20. Justin Pasfield (gk), 21. Sam Gallagher, 22. Mustafa Amini, 23. Adam Kwasnik *Five to be omitted*
Perth Glory v Central Coast Mariners Sunday 11 March, 2012 nib Stadium - 4:30pm (local); 7:30pm AEDT Twitter: Follow the match conversation on Twitter. The official match hash-tag is #HALpgccm Line-ups: Please click here to download a complimentary match team sheet.