Mariners in upbeat mood for semi-final


Park Hyung Jin of Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Isaka Cernak Okanya of Central Coast Mariners. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Park Hyung Jin of Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Isaka Cernak Okanya of Central Coast Mariners. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Central Coast remain optimistic of success in Saturday's do-or-die A-League semi-finals clash with Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Mariners are upbeat despite the physical and emotional strain of their midweek Asian Champions League elimination by Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

Mariners coach Phil Moss said that rather than deflated by their Champions League exit in Japan, his side were galvanised.

"The minute we returned to the dressing room [in Hiroshima], the players immediately took their attention to the A-League," he said.

"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."

The Wanderers had enjoyed a midweek boost with a 5-0 win over Guizhou Renhe to book passage to next month's Champions League knockout stage.

Moss, though, said recent history between the teams gave him 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 2015 AFC Champions League berth still up for grabs. Brisbane Roar and the 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. It helped develop our players, and is opening doors for everyone involved at the club."

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. AAP


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