Central Coast Mariners fuming over finals schedule

April 20, 2014

Dominic Bossi

Sports reporter

Clash: Adelaide United's Awer Mabil contests the ball against Mariners veteran Mile Sterjovski during the A-League elimination final at Central Coast Stadium.

Clash: Adelaide United’s Awer Mabil contests the ball against Mariners veteran Mile Sterjovski during the A-League elimination final at Central Coast Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Central Coast Mariners are furious with Football Federation Australia’s scheduling of the A-League semi-finals after they were forced to play Western Sydney Wanderers only a day after returning to Australia from Japan due to their Asian Champions League commitments.

The Mariners will have little more than less than 36 hours to overcome the fatigue and jet lag of an international flight before facing the Wanderers in a sudden-death play-off at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday night, which has angered the club due to the significant disadvantage they have been forced to endure.

The tight scheduling will prevent the Mariners from undergoing training between their Asian Champions League match against Sanfrecce Hiroshima in Japan and their A-League semi-final. The Mariners are also unable to rest a number of core players from their midweek fixture due to injuries and suspensions and will be forced to bring a full-strength squad to Japan before requiring them to back up just three days later in Australia.

Furious: Mariners defender Eddy Bosnar tries to navigate past Adelaide United at Gosford on Saturday night.

Furious: Mariners defender Eddy Bosnar tries to navigate past Adelaide United at Gosford on Saturday night. Photo: Getty Images

Mariners coach Phil Moss says he was told the reason the game was scheduled on Saturday instead of Sunday was due to ground availability at Pirtek Stadium next weekend. The venue’s only other tenants, NRL side Parramatta, are away against North Queensland next weekend. Moss was also critical of the short turnaround between travel and finals football as a potential harm to player welfare.

“I think these things need to be thought through more for two reasons; for player welfare and for the quality of the product,” he said. “Both of these things are in jeopardy when you have to get off an overnight flight from Asia. You don’t have time for a session and then you have to play a grand final qualifier the next day.”

Experienced defender Eddy Bosnar slammed FFA’s decision to schedule the match on Saturday instead of Sunday and said this should never happen again for the sake of player welfare.

“As someone who’s been in the game for so long and someone who’s travelled to Asia, I know what it’s like,” Bosnar said. “It’s absolutely ridiculous to arrive here on Friday morning and play on Saturday afternoon.

“But we’ve got no choice. That’s the way they’ve scheduled it. We’ll give everything that we’ve got on Saturday. It’s quite funny that it’s worked out that way but what can you do?”

Unlike many of the wealthier clubs in Asia, the Mariners will travel economy class rather than business, making it more difficult to sleep on the flight. Bosnar said the players’ fitness levels would not be overly jeopardised by the travel but they would suffer mental exhaustion as a result, which could affect their performances.

“Firstly, you’re changing countries, you’re changing your diet, you’re changing food and also you’ve got the long trip and we’re travelling economy class,” Bosnar said. “Asian teams travel business class. . . If we want the game in this country to go, we have to look after players.”

Source :The Sydney Morning Herald

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