Preview: Queensland Roar v Central Coast
Queensland has a firm grip on this tie after a 2-0 win away last week, leaving the Mariners, who are going through the longest losing streak in their history, with a mountain to climb.
Date: Friday, February 13 Kick-off: 8:30pm AEDT, 7:30pm local Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane TV and Radio: Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 3, delayed coverage on Sky Sport 3 and Coast FM (Gosford) 96.3FM. To purchase tickets visit www.premier.ticketek.com.au
Head-to-head 13 Hyundai A-League meetings: Central Coast - 2 wins, Queensland Roar - 5 wins, Draws - 6
Previous meeting Central Coast 0, Queensland Roar 2, Bluetongue Stadium, Minor Semi-Final first leg, Bluetongue Stadium
Finals meetings: 1 meeting: Queensland Roar - 1 win
Past Five Games Central Coast: 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 Minor semi (Leg 1): Central Coast 0, Queensland Roar 2, Bluetongue Stadium
Queensland Roar: 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 Minor semi (Leg 1): Central Coast 0, Queensland Roar 2, Bluetongue Stadium
Analysis Queensland has a firm grip on this tie after a 2-0 win away last week, leaving the Mariners, who are going through the longest losing streak in their history, with a mountain to climb.
The Roar's win last week had its share of fortune, with the first goal from Mitch Nichols coming against the run of play. Sergio van Dijk, the form striker of the competition, then converted a penalty for the second and it looked for all intents and purposes that the Roar were headed to the Preliminary Final.
But there have been a few key incidents which could give Central Coast a glimmer of hope. Danny Tiatto misses this game after being sent off late last week, while injuries to Josh McCloughan and Tahj Minniecon are setbacks for the Roar at either end of the park.
Minniecon's absence won't be crucial in a match where the Roar will be defending a two-goal lead, but the absence of McLoughan will prove a major worry. Added to the fact that Craig Moore will only have 48 hours between his heroic performance in Yokohama and this match, and there is some real pressure on the Queensland defence. Luke DeVere comes in for McLoughan, while David Dodd and Ben Griffin also return.
Lawrie McKinna, who has admitted he is at a bit of a loss to explain his side's slide in form, gets back Dean Heffernan for this match. It's a big boost for a team which lacked composure and experience when it mattered last week. Pedj Bojic makes way.
Central Coast has not won since the Round 19 match with Perth, losing to Queensland twice in a four-match period which has many scratching their heads around Gosford. The Mariners strikers have lost form, their midfield keeps coughing up the ball and the defence looks nervy without Mile Jedinak in front of it.
But they have gone to Queensland and got all three points once this season. With the injury and suspension worries at the Roar, the Mariners need to take advantage, get an early goal and put a few dark thoughts into their opponents' minds.
It's not necessarily a case of all out attack for the Mariners. It's a matter of working hard to get that opening goal and then taking it from there. But that won't be easy against a Queensland side which has lost just one of its past 11.
Queensland Roar Squad: 1.Liam REDDY, 2.Andrew PACKER, 3.Luke DEVERE, 4.Craig MOORE, 6.David DODD, 7.Michael ZULLO, 8.Massimo MURDOCCA, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10.Charlie MILLER, 14.Ben GRIFFIN, 15.Matt McKAY, 16.Hyuk-Su SEO, 17.Mitch NICHOLS, 19.Isaka CERNAK, 20.Griffin McMASTER, 21.Tommy OAR.
In. 3.Luke DEVERE (promoted), 6.David DODD (promoted), 14.Ben GRIFFIN (promoted).
Out. 5.Josh McCLOUGHAN (injured - groin), 12.Tahj MINNIECON (injured - hip), 18.Danny TIATTO (suspended - one week)
Central Coast Mariners Squad.: 2.Andre GUMPRECHT, 5.Bradley PORTER, 7.John HUTCHINSON, 8.Dean HEFFERNAN, 9.Nik MRDJA, 10.Adrian CACERES, 11.Dylan MACALLISTER, 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).
In: 8. Dean HEFFERNAN (Returns from Suspension).
Out. 4. Pedj BOJIC (Omitted).
Unavailable: 1. Matthew NASH (Shoulder - Indefinite), 21. Ahmad ELRICH (Knee - Season).