Perez out of Grand Final
The Central Coast Mariners have suffered a massive blow on the eve of their Hyundai A-League Grand Final clash with Brisbane as key midfielder Patricio Perez was ruled out of the side with a hamstring injury.
The Central Coast Mariners have suffered a massive blow on the eve of their A-League Grand Final clash with Brisbane as key midfielder Patricio Perez was ruled out of the side with a hamstring injury.
The Argentine injured his hamstring during the second half of last weekend's 1-0 preliminary final win over Gold Coast United.
During the week, the Mariners had hoped Perez, who has scored six goals and supplied six assists this season, would recover in time.
But the 25-year-old failed to pass a fitness test on Saturday morning and has been ruled out of the side.
In his absence it appears likely 17-year-old Mustafa Amini will be given the chance to deputise for Perez, playing in the hole behind the two strikers.
"If I got a start it would be a dream come true," Amini told ccmariners.com.au.
"Playing in a Grand Final at 17 in front of 50-thousand odd people would be amazing."
Mariners coach Graham Arnold hinted Perez had never been a chance to play in the decider at Suncorp on Sunday.
"On Perez: He's out. So that's a blow. Unfortunately he didn't recover in time," said Arnold.
"But I've got all the faith in the world young Musti (Amini). What he did last week when he came on for Patricio last week in the last 20 minutes was outstanding. He's had a great year and he'll be fine."
"No (he didn't get close), not really. He's got a tear on his hamstring, two centimetres, so he was never really a chance."
"We tried to leave it as late as we could, he had around the clock treatment, but he wasn't really a chance."
While the super-talented Amini has made the most of opportunities this season, the Mariners' chances of pulling off an upset take a blow with Perez, a member of the Argentinian side that won the 2005 U/20 World Cup, sitting on the sidelines.
Earlier in the week Roar players said that Perez would be a big loss, but Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson told press that excitement machine Amini would have no problems stepping up to the standard in front of a 52,000 screaming Roar fans.
"He'll have no problem. He doesn't get flustered at all by anything."
"As a 17-year-old, getting thrust into the A-League, when he probably didn't think he was a going to play too much… he's coped with it brilliantly.
Nothing fazes him. He's a great kid, he loves a laugh, he loves a joke, and he'll be fine tomorrow night."
Ange Postecoglou's reaction was consistent with claims earlier in the week that the Roar would not be affected by Perez's inclusion or absence.
"There's no doubt he's a quality player - he's a very dangerous player - but I think the strength of both teams, really, is in their system of play," he said.
"I think for both sides, you don't get consistency as we've had or the Mariners had if you're system can't cope with people being out."
"Obviously he would have been a threat if he was out there, but it's the collective that you've got to respect and I don't think it'll affect their performance too much."