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Jan 21, 2012

Mariners coach raises scheduling concerns

Central Coast coach Graham Arnold fears he may have to field a weakened side at the business end of the A-League season due to what he says is "crazy" scheduling during his side's Asian Champions League campaign.

Arnold slammed Football Federation Australia over several scheduling issues after the Mariners overcame a hectic week to defeat Adelaide 3-2 at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday night.

The former Socceroos coach said FFA may be failing to consider player welfare by forcing players to endure heavy travelling schedules and short turnarounds from midweek fixtures, with sides sometimes facing three games in seven days.

Arnold also took the opportunity to vent his frustrations over the scheduling of his side's A-League fixtures when the 2011 ACL kicks off in March.

The Mariners are away to Chinese side Tianjin Teda in their first match on March 7 and have to back up for an away trip to Perth four days later, while they face Wellington away four days after the return leg against Tianjin in Gosford on March 21.

"I'm a little bit disappointed," Arnold said.

"We've written a letter to FFA in August when we saw the draw ... they knew that we were in the ACL and they give us Perth Glory and Wellington away in the last four games when we have ACL.

"We've requested on three or four occasions for them to have a look at it and potentially change it and we've had no response.

"I worry about the players' welfare ... it (the scheduling) is crazy."

Arnold said he could be forced to field weakened sides in either competition.

"I don't know whether to play the players who haven't played much in the A-League or the ACL. I don't what to do, it's tough," Arnold said.

FFA would not comment on the issue on Sunday, saying it would do so this week.

Saturday night's result extended the Mariners' unbeaten run to 14 games and cemented their status as championship favourites.

They extended their lead atop the competition to 11 points after second-placed Brisbane Roar were held to a 1-1 draw away to Melbourne Heart.

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