City Head Coach Michael Valkanis believes Sunday’s clash with the Mariners will be an important match for his side to practice what they preach and will settle for nothing less than three points.
The two possession-based sides will go head-to-head on Sunday in Round 22 of the A-League as City look to bounce back after a promising start against Sydney FC.
The Mariners will be coming into the contest picking up ten points in their last five matches and with the incentive of finals still on the cards for Paul Okon’s men, City and Valkanis will be looking to continue their push towards April’s Finals Series.
“The plan is to finish as high as possible and to play finals,” Valkanis said.
“[We’re out] to evolve the team as the season goes on and to be prepared for finals football and that involves changing strategies and adapting to the situation.
“It’s going to be an interesting match because they are a team that wants to play as well. We want to play, we want the ball, they want the ball and for us, it’s important that we dominate and have control of the game and create as many chances as we can.
“For the Central Coast, they’ll be looking for the same so it will be the team that’s more dominant that will win the arm wrestle. We’re really focused for the game and the boys have worked hard this week. We are looking towards a very good game and hopefully three points.”
The final three sessions after Thursday’s ‘Team News’ sees Michael Jakobsen miss out another week with the medical team taking no risks with the defender. Despite the Dane’s absence, Nicolas Colazo returns to the team after recovering from his groin strain and Valkanis confirmed he will be up for selection.
“Colazo is back from his small injury and back in the squad but Jakobsen is not ready just yet,” he said.
“We have to make sure with Jako that he’s 100%. We can’t afford to lose a player like him going into the finals again so with the split round coming up, it’s probably a good time to give him an extra week to come back for the Newcastle game and hope he stays fit from now onwards right through to the finals.
“He’s an important part of our defence and the eleven and he’s one of the best defenders in the A-League and is an experienced player with a lot of leadership qualities so we have to make sure we don’t take any risks with him.”
With the Sydney loss behind them and an important run of games against sides outside of the top six, Valkanis will be looking to get the best out of his side as they look to hit their straps towards the final matches of the season.
“It’s going to be a tough game and we have to go in there concentrating fully on what we have to do and our game plan is and dominate, create chances and score goals. The boys have worked really well this week and they know how important this game is,” he said.
“We’ve dropped some points that we probably shouldn’t have but we have to look forward and look into the future and where we sit at the moment.
“We’re quite content and we’ll keep working towards the finals. We’ll be ready for it and we’ll be unpredictable [with our tactics].”
City take on the Mariners on Sunday, kick-off 5pm. See the match live on Fox Sports 505.