Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson is expecting Central Coast Mariners to provide a stern, physical test on Sunday, but feels that his side will draw plenty of confidence from last season’s dramatic Preliminary Final victory at Bluetongue Stadium.
Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson is expecting Central Coast Mariners to provide a stern, physical test on Sunday, but feels that his side will draw plenty of confidence from last season-s dramatic Preliminary Final victory at Bluetongue Stadium.
On an emotion filled night in Gosford, Perth Glory ultimately prevailed on penalties having battled out a 1-1 draw with the minor premiers and Ferguson is anticipating a similarly hard-fought encounter this time around.
“Being honest, I felt they had the better chances in that Preliminary Final”, he admitted.
“(Adam) Kwasnik had two one-on-ones with Danny Vukovic which Danny saved, but saying that, (Shane) Smeltz had a fantastic header saved by Mathew Ryan late on and Scott Neville had two great chances as well.
“It was a game of mixed emotions until the penalties were taken and when it was over, obviously I was delighted.
“The last two times we-ve played them, we-ve actually done very well.
“We beat them here at nib Stadium and then got that draw over there and got through on penalties and we-ll definitely be taking confidence from that.”
And while Graham Arnold-s men weren-t at their best in last week-s season-opener against Western Sydney Wanderers, Ferguson still views them as serious title challengers.
“The Mariners are a very good side”, he said, “and I-m not going to judge them on one or two games.
“They-ll be there of thereabouts come the end of the season.
“They have the nucleus of the same squad again and they are going to be difficult to beat.
“They are a physical side and we get that tag thrown at us as well unfortunately.
“I-ve always said you have to win the battle before the football-s played and hopefully we can do that on Sunday, but it-s going to be a tough game.”
The Glory boss went on to reveal that he will make two changes to the side that downed reigning premiers Brisbane Roar last time out, with Billy Mehmet earning a promotion to the starting eleven and exciting Japanese import Ryo Nagai set to make his Glory debut off the bench.
With Shane Smeltz absent due to his international commitments with New Zealand, Mehmet will be handed the opportunity to spearhead the attack having come off the bench to bag Glory-s late winner last week, while Nagai-s versatility means that he could be employed in a variety of offensive positions.
“Smeltzy is away, so we-ll bring Billy Mehmet in to play up front and we-ll bring young Ryo in as well”, he said.
“He (Ryo) has come through training well, so he-ll be on the bench.
“Ryo-s quick, mobile, has good feet and can play left or right so he has a lot to offer. “We-ll see how he goes and try and get some game time into him this week.
“When we played our two pre-season friendlies in Melbourne, of the seven goals we scored he was involved in four of them, so he-s definitely got a bit about him.
“Billy and Shane have obviously got their own individual qualities”, Ferguson continued.
“Shane is more of a goalscorer, whereas Billy can be a bit more of a target-man.
“He can provide that platform for us, hold it up and get the midfield to support him. “They are different players, but two great players to have in your squad and I was delighted with Billy-s contribution off the bench last week.”
Hyundai A-League: Round 2 SUNDAY, October 14 Central Coast Mariners v Perth Glory Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford Kick-off: 2pm (Perth time)