Mariners happy for more Roar hype
Central Coast hope to catch A-League pacesetters Brisbane Roar by surprise in the A-League finals, with Mariners coach Graham Arnold saying his team's underdog status is playing in their favour.
Arnold was left bewildered before the start of the season when some experts predicted his team would finish in the bottom two and struggle to avoid the wooden spoon.
Central Coast have defied all expectations to sit outright second on the table - three points clear of third-placed Adelaide following six wins and two draws from their past nine games.
Brisbane, who are seven points clear on top of the table, remain hot favourites to take out this season's title.
But Arnold said he was more than happy for the Roar to receive all the hype while his team sneaked under the radar.
"It's good, keep talking Brisbane (up)," Arnold said after his team's 2-1 away win over Perth Glory on Wednesday.
"It's great that we're never favourites.
"Someone in the ... betting keeps putting us the underdogs.
"Let them keep doing it, it's great. We're happy.
"At the start of the year all the experts tipped us to come 10th, to battle it out with North Queensland for last spot.
"But I had a lot of belief in the players I brought in.
"I brought Olly (Oliver Bozanic) back from England and he has a wonderful future ahead of him.
"(And also) the big Dutchman over from Holland (Patrick Zwaanswijk) and (Patricio) Perez and Josh Rose.
"We've only got 21 players, we've only had 21 players the whole year.
"In that 21 players we've got five or six 18-year-olds, so it was a risk.
"But my view on it is with the travel, the youngsters handle it better."
Arnold also praised the club's medical team and said his time under former Socceroos boss Guus Hiddink had also helped set up the Mariners' success.
"We've changed a lot of things off the field," he said.
"It's the little things, it's what I learnt off Mr Hiddink.
"All the small details mean a lot to players."
Central Coast take on Sydney FC at Bluetongue Stadium on Sunday in what will be the Mariners' fifth game in 15 days.
But Arnold believed he had juggled his squad in such a way that his team would be ready for the challenge.
"We've got four fresh players waiting back in Sydney for us - Zwaanswijk, Rose, Perez and (Adam) Kwasnik," Arnold said after the win over Perth.
"I was able to take Matty Simon off after 60 minutes and Rostyn (Griffiths) to give them a break as well.
"We're at home and going for the three points."