Central Coast remain optimistic of success in Saturday’s do-or-die A-League semi-final against Western Sydney Wanderers.
The Mariners are upbeat despite the physical and emotional strain brought about by their midweek Asian Champions League elimination at Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
Mariners coach Phil Moss says that rather than being deflated by their Champions League exit in Japan, his side have been galvanised as a unit over two months of continental competition.
“The minute we returned to the dressing room (in Hiroshima), the players immediately took their attention to the A-League,” said Moss.
“More than anything this experience has galvanised us. I think everyone knows that when the Mariners’ backs are to the wall, is when the best of us comes out.”
In contrast to the Mariners experiences, the Wanderers enjoyed a midweek boost with an emphatic 5-0 win over Guizhou Renhe to book passage to next month’s Champions League knockout stage.
Moss, though, says recent history between the two teams is reason for confidence on Saturday.
Central Coast claimed a 2-0 win in March on home soil, reprising the result of last year’s grand final as the Mariners claimed their maiden A-League crown.
“We take a lot of confidence into Saturday after our last result against Western Sydney, when our game plan that night worked,” Moss said.
“That night we beat Western Sydney we caused them some problems tactically, so no doubt Saturday will be a fascinating tactical battle, as well as a physical one.
“Playing in Asia has given us tactical flexibility which stands us in good stead for what is ahead.”
The Mariners also have extra incentive to win on Saturday with one remaining 2015 AFC Champions League berth still up for grabs. Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers have secured their ticket to next year’s competition, and the Mariners can do likewise by winning through to the grand final.
“It’s (the Asian Champions League) a great competition and it has helped us significantly this year,” Moss. “It has helped develop our players, and is opening doors for everyone involved at the club.
“For me, one of the key rewards of winning this weekend against Western Sydney Wanderers is getting another crack at Asia.
“We want to be back in the competition in 2015 so we can keep developing in Asia, representing the A-League internationally, and impressing our own club brand on the millions of football fans across the continent.”
The Mariners are set to have a full roster of players available for Saturday’s match in Sydney including defenders Eddy Bosnar and Storm Roux, both of whom came off in the second half against Sanfrecce.