Central Coast will have to recover quickly from a mid-week Asian Champions League game with the A-League not budging on its semi-final schedule.
The fixture pile-up threatening to derail Central Coast’s A-League campaign is just one of the obstacles that come with being a successful team in the eyes of competition bosses.
A-League boss Damien De Bohun says the league has done all it can to delay the Mariners’ semi-final against Western Sydney this weekend.
The match at Parramatta Stadium has been re-scheduled for Saturday but that still leaves little time for the Mariners to recover from a crucial Asian Champions League (ACL) group match in Japan on Wednesday night against Sanfrecce Hiroshima.
Mariners coach Phil Moss and his players have already spoken about their anger at the scheduling, particularly with Melbourne Victory taking on Brisbane Roar in the other A-League semi on Sunday despite playing their ACL fixture a day before the Mariners.
De Bohun admits the result is probably not what the Mariners want but is the reality of competing in multiple tournaments.
“Whilst I know it’s difficult … we’re clear that we’re giving every club the best opportunity to succeed in both the Asian Champions League and A-League finals,” De Bohun told reporters in Brisbane.
“The three teams who are in the Asian Champions League and in the Hyundai A-League finals have all got difficult schedules but they’re professional footballers.
“Look at their results. Central Coast themselves state clearly that the turning point in their season was when they started succeeding in the Asian Champions League.
“Would they have it differently if they could? Probably but, when it’s all said and done, people know the schedule coming in.”
Premiers Brisbane are the only team in the semi-finals not taking part in the ACL.
While to some that might seem an advantage, Roar skipper Matt Smith isn’t looking at it that way, claiming the club’s 2012 ACL campaign had helped them win that year’s A-League championship.
“When we done it a couple of years ago, we used it as a positive,” Smith said.
“You’re playing in semi-final football; you’re playing in potentially grand final football; you’re playing in Asia. For us, when we were playing in the champions league, that brought us together – made us stronger.
“Knowing a lot of their players at the other clubs, they’ll be looking forward to the challenge.”