Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou knows what a tough task it will be for his side to reach the A-League grand final, but says the belief in his men is strong
|By JAMES RANSON
Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou has acknowledged the "enormity of the task" in their sudden-death semi-final with the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Sunday.
The Mariners' record at Bluetongue Stadium makes for ominous reading - in 14 games there this season they have won 11, drawn two and lost one, including a 6-2 hammering of Victory in February.
But Postecoglou boasts a phenomenal finals record, including two A-League titles with the Brisbane Roar and only one sudden-death finals loss in his club coaching career, with South Melbourne in 1998.
The Victory coach described the finals atmosphere as a "familiar feeling" and is expecting a much tighter affair than when the sides last met.
"Finals games are totally different. There's more of an edge there's more pressure and pressure does funny things to individuals and to teams," Postecoglou said.
"I'm under no illusions of the enormity of the task of going to Central Coast and knocking them off.
"They're a quality outfit, they've had a great year. It's always tough playing them up there but a finals game's got a bit of edge, it'll be a tight one.
"It's reflective of their season," he added, of the Mariners' form at home.
"That's their reward for finishing in the top two and that's our penance for not doing that. If we're going to win the competition we're going to do it the hard way and if we do we'll be worthy winners."
Victory will arrive a day earlier than usual with close to a fully fit squad, aside from duo Gui Finkler and Adama Traore.
Postecoglou said the club's toils this season - including the heavy defeat to the Mariners and last week's extra-time win over Perth - would galvanise the group.
"We've had our challenges but we've maintained the belief in what we do. It hasn't always been smooth sailing but if anything I think that breeds more belief," he said.
"Last week's a classic example, if we had have won easy we would have felt good about it but doing it the way we did gives us the belief that we can overcome adversity.
"We took a lot away from it [the 6-2 defeat to the Mariners], if we're not good we'll get hammered. We were poor and they were fantastic."
A home final will be on offer if Victory manage to win and Postecoglou's old side Brisbane can knock off premier Western Sydney, while a Wanderers victory will ensure at the very least a ticket to the AFC Champions League for the Melbourne side.
"It's going to be a tight one as well, Western Sydney have been the outstanding team all season and Brisbane arguably are the form side at the moment.
"If we win and Brisbane win we'll get a home final which would be great and if Western Sydney win we're guaranteed some Asian Champions League participation so I can sit back and have a beer and cheer them both on tonight."