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A-League finals wide open: Heart coach

Melbourne Heart coach John van 't Schip says the Asian Champions League (ACL) will help create a wide open A-League finals series.

The top two clubs, Central Coast and Brisbane, are given a major advantage by the finals system, under which they get two chances to reach the grand final, whereas the other four finalists need to survive three sudden-death matches.

But van 't Schip, whose team will play finals for the first time, said that was countered by the Mariners and Roar also being the only two finalists competing in the ACL at the same time.

"All six teams going into the finals have a chance," van 't Schip said.

"Especially looking at Brisbane and Central Coast, looking at the teams that are playing in the Asian Champions League, they have an extra load.

"So with the six teams that are going in, there's a chance for every team to win."

The Heart secured their spot with a 2-2 draw against Sydney FC on Saturday night, which left the Sky Blues needing to beat Newcastle at Allianz Stadium next Sunday to claim the last berth ahead of the Jets.

Theoretically, Sydney and the Jets could draw and both overtake the fifth-placed Heart, but only if the Heart lose to Adelaide United by eight goals on Friday night.

Van 't Schip said the likelihood his side would probably face all away matches during the finals, starting with a trip to Perth or Wellington, was no problem.

"We've showed when we play away we can play well - we've won in Perth, we've won in Brisbane, we've won in Sydney - so there's not a big difference between a home game and an away game for us," he said.

"I have a strong belief that if everything is good and you're having the right day that we can really be a good team and go far."

Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka was not prepared to contemplate what sort of a threat his side could be if they got past the Jets.

He called on Sydney fans to pack the stadium for next weekend's do-or-die encounter.

"We expect a huge tough game for both sides, for us and for Jets as well," Lavicka said.

"I have to say we have great fans, who are supporting us all season, it doesn't mater if we play well or not.

"I expect they will come to make it a full stadium."


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