Central Coast Mariners should be keen to get back on the field and forget about off-field troubles when they travel to Hindmarsh Stadium on Sunday.
Date: Sunday 24 March, 2013 Kick-off: 7.00pm AEST, 6.30pm local Venue: Hindmarsh Stadium
Head-to-head Played: 24 Wins: Adelaide 6, Central Coast 12, Draws: 6
Previous encounter Central Coast 3, Adelaide 1, 25 January 2013
Form: Past five matches: Adelaide: DWLDL Central Coast: WLLWL
The Game Central Coast Mariners should be keen to get back on the field and forget about off-field troubles when they travel to Hindmarsh Stadium on Sunday. Reports emerged this week that the Mariners' players and staff were waiting to be paid as the Gosford-based club goes through yet another financial problem.
While Central Coast have been one of the most-successful clubs in the league's history, winning two Premiership Plates and qualifying for the finals in five of the competition's seven seasons, this is not the first time players and staff have had to wait longer than expected for their wages. The Mariners' chairman and main shareholder, Peter Turnball, is reportedly negotiating with English businessman Michael Charlesworth to hand over control but as the negotiations drag on, Central Coast head coach Graham Arnold will hope it does not affect the club's on-field performance.
Adelaide United will be without Argentine playmaker Marcelo Carrusca for the visit from the Mariners but in good news the 29-year-old is expected to miss just one game after hurting his groin in the Reds' 1-1 draw with Newcastle last week. In another boost, Adelaide head coach Michael Valkanis may bring Bruce Djite back into his squad this week with the bustling striker close to full recovery from his own groin problem.
The big issue Adelaide - Are the Reds genuine contenders for the A-League championship? With two rounds before the finals, the A-League ladder still has a clear gap between fourth-placed Adelaide and the bottom six teams. But with Valkanis' team having only won two of their past nine games, doubts remain whether they should be ranked alongside the Mariners, Melbourne Victory and leaders Western Sydney Wanderers as contenders for the title. Success against Central Coast would be a big statement.
Central Coast - Central Coast have had a tough month with their salary issues coming on the back of a slump in form. Arnold's side have won two of six matches in all competitions over the past four weeks as they have dropped to second on the A-League ladder. Plus, in their last five games, the Mariners have scored just twice. But does last week's 1-0 victory over Brisbane Roar mean the Mariners are back on track? Central Coast fans will be looking for an emphatic performance against Adelaide to prove their team's slump is over.
Gamebreaker Michael McGlinchey - After Tom Rogic left for Celtic in January, McGlinchey stepped up and has arguably been one of the best players of the competition since New Year's Day. The 26-year-old midfielder has scored five goals in 2013, while also providing three assists, and with Central Coast's lead striker Daniel McBreen on a six-game goalless streak, McGlinchey will be the Mariners' go-to-man against Adelaide.
Prediction: Central Coast 2-1 Adelaide. The Mariners have a fantastic record against the Reds having won the past seven matches between the two clubs. While Central Coast's past four wins over Adelaide have been in Gosford, the NSW side have also triumphed in their past two fixtures at Hindmarsh Stadium.
The Mariners have struggled over the past month as they have begun their AFC Champions League (ACL) campaign. Arnold has confirmed he will need to rotate his squad with the ACL and A-League finals to run concurrently but claims he does not know which to focus on. If the 49-year-old head coach opts to use youngsters in his team's final two home-and-away fixtures in the A-League, Adelaide could take advantage.
With Djite claiming he is ready to play against Central Coast, the Reds' squad continues to strengthen ahead of the finals. Portuguese winger Fabio Ferreira, who has come off the bench in Adelaide's past two games, could make his first starting appearance this year on Sunday. The 23-year-old speedster has struggled with osteitis pubis since New Year's Eve but looks set to provide the South Australian club with a much-needed boost as the A-League season comes to a close.