Alen Stajcic has made clear the one thing he doesn’t want anywhere near his in-form side: complacency.
The Central Coast Mariners coach told media that the mood in his camp is “really positive.”
“There’s a lot of belief and confidence. The one area we don’t want to go near is complacency. We can never get complacent’, he said, before praising his side again.
As to the likelihood of his new foreign acquisitions getting game time, Stajcic played his cards close to his chest.
“I’m not sure, we have to get through training today to see what our final squad is.
“At the moment, the only likely exclusion is Josh Nisbet who picked up an injury when he was fouled by (Anthony) Caceres in the first minute of the game last week and got that tackle from behind. He hurt his ankle a little bit, and he’s probably ready, but we don’t want to risk him tomorrow, so he’s out for this weekend.”
Next opponents Wellington Phoenix has had the third most average possession in the league with 54.1%. Meanwhile, the Mariners have averaged 28.9% a game – the lowest mark in the league. The Mariners’ pressing has been a feature of their success thus far, and Stajcic knows the plan will have to come good again to get a result.
“Wellington is a good side… for me, they are one of the better teams in the league – well organised and well structured and a lot of positive strategy moving forward and trying to get in the pocket.
“They are a difficult team to nullify, and on top of that, they’ve got some classy players like (Ulises) Davila, hardworking players like (David) Ball. They’ve got Tomer Hemed who has just come into the team and (Jaushua) Sotirio gives them a bit of speed so they’ve got a lot of threat moving forward, and keeping the ball is just one of them.
“It’s definitely not going to be an easy task to nullify them like we did Sydney.”
Stajcic may have hinted in this last sentence that he is going to sit deep again and let Wellington Phoenix keep the ball as they did against Sydney, pressing when an opportunity arises but focusing on stopping runs in behind.
Wellington plays similarly to Sydney, trying to find pockets in midfield to slide balls in behind and create triangles on both wings. The Mariners were consistently successful in preventing Sydney from doing this, so we could see a similar game plan against Wellington at Central Coast Stadium.
Meanwhile, Oliver Bozanic also gave off a positive demeanour.
Asked about his partnership with Gianni Stensness in midfield, he responded:
“Yeah Gianni’s working well in midfield. The whole club’s been delighted with him, and we’re starting to build a good partnership. We are both hard-working and want to get on the ball and move forward, so we want to continue that each game.”
The last time Bozanic was in the A-League was back in 2017/18 with Melbourne City, and he had praise for the progress the league has made in difficult circumstances.
“I definitely think the A-League’s growing, and there’s been a tough period with COVID-19 where a lot of players have left the A-League, but then again it gives opportunities for the young players coming through, especially at our club.
“I really believe that all those players who have come through this season, even the ones from last season are really taking their game to the next level and once again we’re just going to keep building on that.”