Preview: Central Coast v Queensland Roar
History says Central Coast can't make it through to the preliminary finals. No team has ever finished fourth and made it through to the final three, while the Mariners' winless record against the Roar at Bluetongue does not augur well either.
Date: Friday, February 6 Kick-off: 8:00pm AEST Venue: Bluetongue Stadium, Central Coast TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1 and Sky Sport 2. Hyundai A-League club radio broadcast partner is Coast FM (Gosford) 96.3FM. To purchase tickets visit www.premier.ticketek.com.au
Head-to-head 12 Hyundai A-League meetings: Central Coast - 2 wins, Queensland Roar - 4 wins, Draws - 6
Previous meeting Central Coast Mariners 3, Queensland Roar 4, Bluetongue Stadium, January 2009
Finals meetings: Never met
Past Five Games Central Coast: Round 17: Newcastle Jets 1, Central Coast Mariners 2, EnergyAustralia Stadium Round 18: Central Coast Mariners 1, Perth Glory 0, Bluetongue Stadium Round 19: Central Coast Mariners 3, Queensland Roar 4, Bluetongue Stadium Round 20: Melbourne Victory 3, Central Coast Mariners 0, Telstra Dome Round 21: Central Coast Mariners 0, Adelaide United 1, Bluetongue Stadium
Queensland Roar: Round 18: Melbourne Victory 2, Queensland Roar 1, Telstra Dome Round 19: Central Coast Mariners 3, Queensland Roar 4, Bluetongue Stadium Round 16: Adelaide United 0, Queensland Roar 0, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 20: Queensland Roar 3, Sydney FC 1, Suncorp Stadium Round 21: Queensland Roar 4, Perth Glory 2, Suncorp Stadium
Analysis History says Central Coast can't make it through to the preliminary finals. No team has ever finished fourth and made it through to the final three, while the Mariners' winless record against the Roar at Bluetongue does not augur well either.
But Lawrie McKinna has never been a man who relied too much on the history books. He knows what his side needs to achieve and he will back their experience against the young Roar line-up.
However, his concern must be the Mariners' form in the run-up to the finals, having lost their past three matches to the other sides in the top four. The last time these two teams met, Queensland completely outplayed the Mariners, winning 4-3, while the follow-up against the Victory saw a 3-0 defeat. The 1-0 loss to Adelaide wasn't quite as bad, but the concern is how the side has performed since the departure of Mile Jedinak. His imposing presence across the back of midfield has been sorely missed, and the club desperately needs some strength in the back half.
Andrew Clark, Matthew Osman and Sasho Petrovski have been included, while Matthew Lewis misses out.
Things are a lot more positive for Frank Farina, who comes into this match with his team having won three of its past four matches and having lost just one of its past 10. The Roar have never lost in six trips to the Bluetongue, however, Central Coast did beat them 4-2 earlier this year at Suncorp.
Charlie Miller, voted the Hyundai A-League's best foreign player, is now back to full fitness after making his comeback in the match against Perth, while Sergio van Dijk is in brilliant form, scoring six goals in the past four matches. Both men in full flight, serviced by Queensland's excellent lively midfield make the Roar one of the most potent attacks in the league. Hyuk Su Seo and Tom Oar come into an extended squad, while Ben Griffin is left out.
The challenge for Farina is whether to go for the jugular in this match and put the pressure right on the Mariners for the return leg in Brisbane, or whether to show more patience on Friday and then go for it in the home leg.
Both of these sides go into the match with recent finals experience, with the Mariners having won through from a Major Semi-Final last year, only to lose the Grand Final to Newcastle. The Roar prevailed from the Minor Semi-Final over Sydney, only to lose to Newcastle in the Preliminary final.
Central Coast Mariners Squad: 2. Andre GUMPRECHT, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Bradley PORTER, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 9. Nik MRDJA, 10. Adrian CACERES, 11. Dylan MACALLISTER, 12. Greg OWENS, 13. Paul O'GRADY, 15. Andrew CLARK, 16. Nigel BOOGAARD, 17. Matthew OSMAN, 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. Matt SIMON, 20. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 22. Sasho PETROVSKI, 30. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk). *Two to be omitted.
In: 15. Andrew CLARK (Returns from Suspension), 17. Matthew OSMAN (Returns from Injury), 22. Sasho PETROVSKI (Promoted).
Out: 28. Matthew LEWIS (Omitted).
Unavailable: 1. Matthew NASH (gk) (Shoulder - Indefinite), 6. David D'APUZZO (Knee - Indefinite), 8. Dean HEFFERNAN (Suspended - 1 week), 21. Ahmad ELRICH (Knee - Season).
Queensland Roar Squad. 1.Liam REDDY (gk), 2.Andrew PACKER, 4.Craig MOORE (c), 5.Josh McCLOUGHAN, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10. Charlie MILLER, 12.Tahj MINNIECON, 15.Matthew McKAY, 16. Hyuk-Su SEO, 17.Mitch NICHOLS, 18.Danny TIATTO, 19.Isaka CERNAK, 20.Griffin McMASTER (gk), 21. Tom OAR.
In: 16. Hyuk-Su SEO (promoted), 21. Tom OAR (promoted).
Out: 14. Ben GRIFFIN (omitted).
Unavailable. 11. REINALDO.