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A-League 2010/2011 Finals Series - Central Coast Mariners FC preview

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

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Perhaps the darkhorses for the entire 2010/11 A-League season, Central Coast Mariners FC have been a revolution both on and off the field. Everyone has been talking about the coaching and player changes at the rampant Brisbane Roar FC, but it seems that the Mariners have flown under the radar (to their advantage it seems). The replacing of Lawrie McKinna with former Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has reaped dividends, as he has managed to transform a team who were playing ugly, dire football last season to this season’s runners up in the reason proper.

While getting off to a slow start at the beginning of the season with two draws and two losses in the opening four games, the boys from up the Coast managed to string in some great attacking performances, no less thanks to mini midfield Argentinean maestro Patricio Perez feeding the likes of hometown hero Matt Simon, Adam Kwasnik and Daniel McBreen to bag in a considerable amount of goals each. Brought in from Gold Coast United FC to replaced departed goalkeeper Danny Vukovic, Jess Vanstrattan suffered a season ending ACL injury. Taking a gamble, Arnold placed his faith in 18 year old Matthew Ryan who has shined this season while taking the A-League record of most clean sheets in a season with 12 (breaking Clint Bolton’s record while at Sydney FC).

Pipping out Adeliade United FC for second spot, Central Coast Mariners booked their double chance spot in the finals on the back of a wonderful season and if they can keep up their form, they may just meet Brisbane Roar FC in the Grand Final.

Defensive stalwart and captain Alex Wilkinson along with Dutch import Patrick Zwaanswijk will hold key to stop any form of attack on the Mariner’s goal, but it’s the midfield that holds the key for the Central Coast. Patricio Perez will be crucial but if along with young Mustafa Amini can fire up and deliver the supply to the attacking front, there may as well be no stopping the Coast on the march to the Grand Final.

It will be hard to see them loose in the finals series, so a Brisbane Roar FC and Central Coast Mariners FC final looks like it's on the cards.

By Marcel Abboud

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