The Wanderers enter their semi-final with the Mariners in red-hot form. Source: Getty Images/theaustralian.com.au
Central Coast will have to bounce back from their midweek loss when they travel to East-Pirtek Stadium on Saturday to face the Wanderers in the first A-league semi-final. The Mariners were dumped out of the Asian Champions League on Wednesday, while Western Sydney won on Tuesday to top their group and progress.
The main concern for coach Phil Moss will be the fatigue of his side. The semi-final on Saturday will be the fifth game in 15 days for the Mariners, including Wednesday’s away trip to Japan. They line-up against a red-hot Wanderers side that blew Guizhou Renhe off the park on Tuesday night. Western Sydney recorded a 5-0 victory over the Chinese side, the biggest win by an Australian side in the competition’s history. The Central Coast defence line will need to be at their best against a team that has proven they can score this season.
Western Sydney should have fresher legs than the mariners despite also having played a game midweek. They had the luxury of playing at home and the fact they didn’t have to get on a flight to Asia like the Mariners had to, they should be able to out-last them fitness-wise. Shinji Ono was at his inspirational best on Tuesday night, controlling the middle of the park like a good playmaker should. The Wanderers will look for their marquee man who isn’t shy of performing in matches of this significance.
The semi-final should be tight but all things point to a Wanderers win. A sea of red and black will pack East-Pirtek Stadium on Saturday night which can often play as a twelfth man in games like these. The Mariners will struggle with fitness the longer the game progresses and they have it all to do in the grand final rematch.
LIVE FoxSports 3
Click here to bet on A-league semi-final matches.