Mariners at a disadvantage, says coach
Central Coast Mariners boss Alen Stajcic is keen to keep pressing home the underdogs tag for his side despite their lofty heights of third place on the ladder and a near certain first finals appearance in seven seasons.
The Mariners’ 2-1 victory over Macarthur on Thursday night has all but assured their finals spot and with Melbourne City and Sydney FC both losing a string of key players to the Socceroos squad in Kuwait, a surge for the championship is a possibility for a Mariners side who have been ultra-consistent all season.
The former Matildas manager remains keen however to reaffirm the gulf in resources between the two favourites for the title and his team of over-achievers.
“If we’re going to be real, look at City’s line-up and their budget compared to ours. We’ve got to punch above our weight every time we go on the field and if they’re missing two or three players, they’ve still got a host of stars who don’t even get changed every week. Sydney FC are no different,” Stajcic said.
Stajcic has coached the Mariners since 2019. (Photo by Mike Owen/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
The Mariners will be missing one of their very best for the remaining two games of the season and the finals though in Ruon Tongyik who was a bolter for the Socceroos and impressed yet again in the triumph over the Bulls.
“It’s been virtually the same back four all year so it is a bit of a hole,” Stajcic said.
“Ruon’s been outstanding for us. We’re so proud that we have our first Socceroo come from the club in six or seven years and the fact that he’s done it the hard way. To think that he’s grown in his time here and a leader in our back four and now he’s going over to represent Australia in these qualifiers just makes us feel so good,” he continued.
Macarthur now need to win both of their final two games to ensure a finals spot in their first season and will also be without a crucial player in dynamic midfielder Denis Genreau, who was another surprise selection by Graham Arnold to travel to Kuwait.
“He was constantly involved and we’ve loved having him with us this season. He’s been fantastic and we’ll miss him in the run in to the end. We’re very proud at this football club that he’s taken a chance with us and I look forward to watching him play with our national team,” Ante Milicic said.
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