Sunday, March 17, 2013
Arnold accepts 2nd, will rest Mariners
Central Coast coach Graham Arnold is set to rest key personnel over the final two rounds of the A-League, effectively conceding the premiers' plate to Western Sydney as he juggles an ongoing Asian Champions League (ACL) campaign.Sunday's 1-0 home win over Brisbane Roar ensured the Mariners would finish in the top two, guaranteeing them a week off when the finals start.The table-topping Wanderers have all but sealed top spot. With two rounds to play they lead the Mariners by five points - meaning Central Coast need four results to go their way over the next fortnight.But Arnold confirmed that was the last thing on his mind after his tired charges held on for dear life, despite only arriving back in Australia on Friday after Wednesday's ACL loss in Japan."We needed to tie up second spot because of the Asian Champions League," Arnold said."...That might change selection policy for next week (against Adelaide United), and (the following clash with) Melbourne Heart. Definitely. I think I'll rest a lot of players."We'll see how the boys pull up. They're just out on their feet. I've given them off until Friday and we play (in Adelaide on) Sunday."It might not stop there.The Mariners are away to Chinese club Guizhou Renhe on April 9, then slated to host their home semi-final on April 14.Arnold said it's unrealistic for his charges to go full tilt in both matches."I've got a plan in my head of what I want to do. It's either a youth team in the semi-final, or a youth team in the Champions League. Players can't do both," he said."...Then you've got the grand final, if we make it, on the Sunday and we've got Asian Champions League on the Tuesday in South Korea."So I don't know which one we're going to concentrate on. It makes it difficult."The Wanderers continued their fairytale maiden season on Saturday, downing Melbourne Heart 3-1 in driving rain to post a 10th consecutive win and effectively end the Heart's slim finals chances.The result sets the stage for an intense Sydney derby on Saturday night, with Western Sydney needing a win to bag the premiers' plate in front of their Parramatta Stadium faithful.Sydney FC climbed to fifth when they salvaged a 1-1 draw against Melbourne Victory on Saturday night, with Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero's missed penalty making for even more congestion at the middle of the table.Adelaide United, who are fourth on 40 points after an unlucky 1-1 draw with Newcastle in which Dario Vidosic's late strike was disallowed, and the Victory (third on 41 points) are assured of making the finals - but from there it's all open.