Melbourne Heart FC Head Coach John Aloisi believes that this year’s Hyundai A-League season is one of the tightest yet leading into his side’s encounter against table-topping Central Coast Mariners.
Melbourne Heart FC Head Coach John Aloisi believes this season-s Hyundai A-League is one of the tightest campaigns yet, ahead of his side-s encounter with table-topping Central Coast Mariners.
Coming off a morale-boosting 1-0 win over former bogey-team Perth Glory on Saturday, Aloisi is confident his side can come away from Bluetongue Stadium with at least a point tomorrow night, despite being 11 adrift of Graham Arnold-s pacesetters.
With points at a premium away from home for Heart this season - Aloisi-s side is yet to win outside of Melbourne - claiming the scalp of the league-s form side would propel Heart as high as fourth on the ladder and continue an unbeaten streak which has stretched three games.
The last time Heart clashed with the Central Coast a superb free-kick from Pedj Bojic proved the divider, and Aloisi believes his team were close to matching it with the Mariners.
With Qantas Socceroos Richard Garcia, Aziz Behich and Michael Marrone back in the frame after national duty in Hong Kong, Heart's squad will be bolstered for the trip to Gosford.
“We-re confident," Aloisi said. "We-ve kept two clean sheets in a row and we-re getting the internationals back in.”
“Perth was our bogey team and we were struggling against them and it showed. So beating Perth just shows that we-ve got a good squad with so many players missing… It was a good result for us and a boost for everyone.”
“I wasn-t sure what condition [the international players would] come back in, especially Richie, and Aziz played in all the games. But they came back happy and fresh so all three will start.”
National Youth League duo Sam Mitchinson and Jeremy Walker showed they could mix it at the top level when called upon, helping to shore up Heart-s backline while the international trio were away, and helped to keep two clean sheets.
The pair have not travelled with Aloisi-s squad to New South Wales and will be recalled back to the National Youth League side after their promising stints at senior level, with Marrone and Behich retaining their positions, while either Jason Hoffman or Nick Kalmar is expected to make way for the return of Garcia.
Heart captain Fred is expected to make his 50th Hyundai A-League appearance and the Brazilian midfielder echoed Aloisi-s sentiment about how tight this season-s competition is.
“It-s much better than when I played with Melbourne Victory,” Fred said.
“The players are better and that-s why the fans are coming and the league is growing every single year.”
Fred-s direct opponent could be one star of the future who has been setting the league alight, 19-year-old Tom Rogic.
“He-s a good player. I hope we can defend well against them. He-s very skilful and we can-t let him face the goal otherwise it-s difficult to defend him.”
The Red and White will be keen to avenge for its narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Mariners earlier this season and despite receiving reinforcements at the right time, Aloisi expects their opponents to be as tough to beat.
“We know the Mariners are a good side, well organised and we know what to expect from them.” Aloisi said.
“They-re always going to give 100 per cent, whether they-re playing well or not. They-re going to be hard to beat.”
Aloisi lavished praise on Arnold and skipper John Hutchinson for helping the team to remain consistent over a number of seasons.
“From day one they-ve been consistent. I have to hand it to Arnie [Graham Arnold], he-s done well.” Aloisi said.
“The players themselves, in particular Hutchinson who goes unnoticed. He-s the one that leads that team on and off the pitch. He-s like a coach for Arnie. He-s brilliant.”
Hyundai A-League Round 11 - Ins and Outs
Friday, 14 December 2012 Central Coast Mariners v Melbourne Heart Venue: Bluetongue Stadium Kick off: 7:30 PM Referee: Lucien Laverdure Assistant referee 1: Sarah Ho Assistant referee 2: Scott Edeling Fourth official: Tim McGilchrist
Live and exclusive broadcast on FOX Sports 1HD and Delayed telecast on Sky Sports 3.
ABC Radio Coverage - 720 & ABC Local Radio Western Australia, 1233 ABC Newcastle, Grandstand Digital and Online
Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #CCMvMH. Follow us @MelbourneHeart
To purchase tickets visit www.aleague.com.au/tickets
Central Coast Mariners Squad: 1. Mathew Ryan (Gk), 2. Daniel McBreen, 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Zachary Anderson, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7. John Hutchinson (c), 8. Adriano Pellegrino, 9. Bernie Ibini, 10. Tomas Rogic, 13. Brent Griffiths, 14. Michael McGlinchey, 15. Brad McDonald, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 17. Anthony Caceres, 18. Nick Montgomery, 19. Mitchell Duke, 20. Justin Pasfield (Gk), 21. Mile Sterjovski, 23. Adam Kwasnik *Five to be omitted
In: 1. Mathew Ryan (Gk), 10. Tomas Rogic (both return from Qantas Socceroos duty), 13. Brent Griffiths, 15. Brad McDonald, 17. Anthony Caceres (all promoted), 21. Mile Sterjovski (returns from injury), 23. Adam Kwasnik (promoted)
Out: 11. Oliver Bozanic (Mild Concussion - 1 week), 30. David Bradasevic (Gk) (returns to NYL)
Unavailable: 22. James Oates (Ankle - 2 months)
Melbourne Heart squad: 1. Clint Bolton (GK), 2. Michael Marrone, 4. Simon Colosimo, 5. Fred, 6. Patrick Gerhardt, 8. Matthew Thompson, 9. Dylan Macallister, 10. Josip Tadic, 11. Richard Garcia, 14. GolGol Mebrahtu, 15. David Williams, 16. Aziz Behich, 17. Jason Hoffman, 18. David Vrankovic, 20. Andrew Redmayne (GK), 22. Nick Kalmar *one to be omitted
Ins: 2. Michael Marrone (returns from international duty - Qantas Socceroos), 11. Richard Garcia (returns international duty - Qantas Socceroos), 16. Aziz Behich (returns from international duty)
Outs: 24. Sam Mitchinson (omitted), 25. Jeremy Walker (omitted)
Unavailable: 13. Jonatan Germano, 19. Benjamin Garuccio (ankle 4-5 weeks), 23. Mate Dugandzic (broken foot 8-12 weeks), 31. Vince Grella (fitness - undisclosed)