3 DAYS to go .. inside the RIVALS


THREE DAYS away from the Grand Final Qualifier against Central Coast Mariners, this is what our rivals are up to!

CENTRAL Coast Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson says he and his teammates are not daunted by the fact they will have to play an extra match to reach the Hyundai A-League decider against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium.

On Sunday, the Mariners travel to South Korea to face Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma on matchday four of the AFC Champions League (game on Wednesday 18 April), but before their long journey north will have to meet Ian Ferguson-s Perth Glory team at Bluetongue Stadium late on Saturday afternoon. Kick off is 5pm.

“If anything you enjoy playing the games,” Wilkinson said. “This is the time of the year that you want to be involved in.”

“The AFC Champions League is a fantastic competition that we-re fully embracing and enjoying. And it-s the Finals Series so it-s not like it-s tough to get up for games at the moment,” he said.

With Head Coach Graham Arnold giving his troops two days off this week to “freshen up” ahead of the challenge of Glory in the preliminary final, Wilkinson said the team would be prepared for whatever the purple-whites could throw at them come Saturday.

Indeed, the Mariners have enjoyed a good record against Glory throughout the 2011/12 Hyundai A-League campaign. In the only meeting between the two sides at Bluetongue Stadium this season, Arnold-s team won 2-1.

Later in the season the yellow and navy disposed of Glory 3-1 away, before Ferguson-s fellows recorded a 1-0 triumph in the west five weeks ago.

“They-re (Glory) on a good roll,” he said. “They-ve probably scored ten goals in the last three games so they-re definitely going to be tough. But obviously we-re at home and as ‘Arnie- said the performance (against Brisbane) was pretty good.”

“A lesser team at 2-0 down could of chucked it in and it could have been four or five. But the spirit we-ve got in the change room is fantastic here, the boys always work for each other, there-s a great great belief in each other.”

The Mariners will meet Marconi Stallions in a friendly match tonight.

Kicking off at 7pm, the match will provide Arnold and his assistant Phil Moss the opportunity to give crucial game time to some of the players who have not been featuring regularly recently, in order to keep them sharp heading into the business end of the season.

The match will be a tough test for the yellow and navy with Marconi currently topping the NSW Premier League ladder following two wins from their opening two matches of the 2012 season.