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Jan 20, 2008

Aloisi bids to play in finals opener

Central Coast striker John Aloisi had perhaps more reason than most to celebrate the Mariners' remarkable minor premiership triumph.

The league plate was Aloisi's first title in 16 years of professional football.

But, perhaps just as important for Central Coast's grand final bid, the results of the dramatic final day conspired to give the Socceroos hero an extra two days rest ahead of the Mariners' playoff opener.

Hampered by a knee injury, Aloisi may have struggled to be fit for the first leg of the minor semi-final on Friday.

But with both Sydney FC and Queensland Roar failing to secure a top two berth, Aloisi was confident he would be fit to play Newcastle at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday in the opening match of the major semi.

"That's what I was happy about last night when Sydney didn't get the result that they needed because I was sure that I would be playing on Sunday," said Aloisi, who defied doctor's orders to stay on after halftime and score the crucial goal in the Mariners' 2-0 win over Wellington on Saturday.

"The knee isn't too bad, it's still a bit stiff from the game, but I'll get treatment on it and hopefully it will be right by the end of the week.

"I'll have scans this week and see exactly what the problem is.

"I twisted my knee against Sydney (four weeks ago) and then it flared up on a trip back to Perth and when I trained with the Aussie team it flared up a bit again and since then the swelling hasn't really gone down that much."

Aloisi was at the Terrigal Hotel with the rest of the team on Sunday celebrating their triumph after watching Sydney and the Roar both stumble at the final hurdle.

"It's very satisfying. The minor premiership for me is probably just as big as winning the grand final, because it shows the team was the most consistent team over the year," said the 31-year-old.

Signed until the end of the season, Aloisi said he was unlikely to settle his future within the next month.

The Mariners are keen to keep him as their marquee player but will almost certainly have to fend off advances from A-League rivals and lucrative offers overseas.

"I don't know when it's going to be settled, I'm just concentrating on the games at the moment and it might have to be settled after (the finals)," he said.

"At the moment, I'm just worried about the games and we'll see what happens."

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