ALM Match Preview: Staj excited by tough NYE test

Glory Head Coach Alen Stajcic is relishing the prospect of returning to Gosford for what he is expecting to be a hard New Year’s Eve battle with his former club, Central Coast Mariners (kick-off at 4:00pm WST).

View his full pre-match media conference HERE.

The men in purple will make the trip east buoyed by a dramatic 3-2 victory over Macarthur FC in their most recent outing and looking to complete the double over the Mariners who were downed 2-0 at HBF Park back in Round 3.

But they will be up against a home side unbeaten in their last five games and Stajcic is keenly aware that his charges will have to be at their best to end 2023 on a winning note.

“The result [against Macarthur FC] was obviously important, as is any win when you haven’t had as many as you would have liked,” he said.

“But more importantly, the manner of the win was important to give that little bit of belief that we can come from behind, play more consistent football over a 90-minute period and produce some results with it.

“We’ve had to re-focus quickly because the Mariners are a team in good form.

“They’ve had a good five-week stretch now where they were on the bottom of the ladder and have lifted themselves to the edge of the [top] six, so we know we’re coming up against a good team, in form, with some key players in their attacking areas.

“I’m really excited personally, to be honest.

“I love the Central Coast, I loved living there and I still love the club.

“I was extremely happy for them when they won the Championship last year knowing how much hard work and toil and tough times they’d been through over the previous seven or eight years, picking up a lot of wooden spoons and ultimately over that period, losing a lot of hope.

“To see that club rejuvenated and back competitive, winning games and being at the top of the league was really pleasing and I was really happy for everyone at the club.”

The Head Coach went on to back his side to continue to elevate their performance levels in the Round 10 showdown at Industree Group Stadium.

“They [Mariners] are in form, but that doesn’t mean that you win your next game and obviously we’re coming off a win as well,” he said.

“I expect a tough game because they have some good, key players… a lot of players that are still there from last year’s Grand Final win and now that they’ve found a bit of confidence, that’ll give them the springboard to keep going.

“But obviously we’ve got to focus on what we’re doing and we’ve also had a good little period and have definitely built on the improvement that we had in the previous few weeks.

“We had been good for 20, or 30, or 40 minutes, then last week I thought we were better for a longer period of the game, for at least 60 or 70 minutes of the game.

“So if we can keep building like that, there’s no doubt that there is more improvement in results for us to come.”

Stajcic went on to provide an update on injured duo Adam Zimarino and Riley Warland, both of whom will again be unavailable for Sunday’s game.

“Zimers and Riley are still progressing,” he said.

“They’re probably still a couple of weeks away.

“They’re just starting to enter full training and have had a couple of little setbacks, but hopefully they’ll be available again in the next few weeks.

“It’s a lot of hard work for them, but they’ve both been extremely professional, so it’s good to see them making progress.”

Since their defeat to Glory in early November, the Mariners have picked up 11 points from six games, finding the net 16 times in the process.

Colombian forward Angel Torres has been one of their standout performers, bagging six goals and claiming two assists, while Alou Kuol has marked his return to his former club by scoring three times in six starts and J-League-bound Brazilian playmaker Marco Tulio has contributed two goals and four assists.

Sunday will mark Glory’s 26th visit to Industree Group Stadium and they will be looking to make it back-to-back wins having claimed maximum points there in Round 3 last season.

The WA side are unbeaten in their last five overall meetings with the Mariners and have not tasted defeat in Gosford since December 2017.

Match Details

Isuzu UTE A-League Season 2023/24 Round 10

Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory

Industree Group Stadium

Sunday 31 January 2023

Kick-off: 4:00pm WST (7:00pm Local)

Central Coast Mariners squad: 2. Mikael DOKA, 3. Brian KALTAK, 4. Josh NISBET, 5. Noah SMITH, 6. Max BALARD, 7. Christian THEOHAROUS, 9. Alou KUOL, 10. Marco Tulio, 11. Angel TORRES, 14. Dylan Wenzel-HALLS, 15. Storm ROUX, 17. Jing REEC, 18. Jacob FARRELL, 20. Danny VUKOVIC (c), 23. Dan HALL, 26. Brad TAPP, 28. Will WILSON, 30. Jack WARSHAWSKY 33. Nathan PAULL, 39. Miguel DI PIZIO

Ins: 5. Noah SMITH

Outs: 16. Harry STEELE (injury)

Unavailable: Sasha KUZEVSKI (injured)

Perth Glory squad: 1.Oli SAIL (gk), 2.Johnny KOUTROUMBIS, 3.Jacob MUIR, 5.Mark BEEVERS (co-c), 7.Stefan COLAKOVSKI, 8.Mustafa AMINI, 9.David WILLIAMS, 10.Salim KHELIFI, 12.Luke IVANOVIC, 13.Cameron COOK (gk), 15.Aleksandar SUSNJAR, 17.Jarrod CARLUCCIO, 19.Trent OSTLER, 20.Giordano COLLI, 22.Adam TAGGART (co-c), 23.Daniel BENNIE, 24.Oliver BOZANIC, 27.Jayden GORMAN, 29.Darryl LACHMAN, 77.Bruce KAMAU

Two to be omitted

Ins: 23.Daniel BENNIE, 27.Jayden GORMAN

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 11.Adam ZIMARINO (injured), 14.Riley WARLAND (injured), 21.Antonis MARTIS (injured)