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Apr 11, 2013

Postecoglou set for familiar A-League foes

Ange Postecoglou reckons he'd rather jet out of the country than watch an A-League finals series without his team involved.

Thankfully for him, Melbourne Victory coach Postecoglou instead flies to Gosford to face familiar finals foes in Central Coast Mariners - a team his former club Brisbane Roar beat in a grand final two years ago.

Spared an early holiday by their great escape against Perth Glory last weekend, if Postecoglou is feeling any pressure about the Victory's patchy form as he bids to make a third successive grand final, he isn't showing it.

"The biggest fear is you're not involved," Postecoglou said at Melbourne Airport on Friday.

"I've already said to the players that I reckon if we weren't in the finals, I'd have left the country.

"I couldn't stomach watching it. I love this time of the year. I love the big games.

"The pressure's different. The consequences of mistakes are greater. The rewards of good play and determined effort are far greater.

"We definitely want to be involved in that final week as well."

That confidence ahead of Sunday's semi-final at Bluetongue Stadium might well be due to Postecoglou's remarkable A-League finals record - unbeaten in seven games with two clubs in a variety of epic endings.

Victory's penchant for conceding cheap goals - like the one they coughed up under little pressure to the Glory last weekend before their fightback - looms as their Achilles heel against a Mariners side with a stunning home record this season.

The Mariners battered the Victory 6-2 in their last meeting at Bluetongue Stadium.

Postecoglou admits defensive frailty is an issue for his side but backs their ability to overcome it.

"The flipside of that is if we do concede one, we're used to it. We're not going to panic.

"We'll panic more if it's a clean sheet - we won't know what to do with ourselves."

Postecoglou is likely to take an unchanged side into Sunday's semi.

The Mariners come off a midweek trip to China, where they lost an Asian Champions League match.

But coach Graham Arnold rested seven players, including leading goalscorer Daniel McBreen, who are set to return to face the Victory.

Postecoglou admits nothing less than winning the A-League will satisfy him or his team.

"We think we lost too many games this year, and our target is always to try and finish in the top two," he said.

"At this point right now, we're in a point we can win the competition.

"If we're going to win the competition, we've got to do it the hard way. But that means if we do get to the top, we'll be worthy winners."

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