Central Coast Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson cannot wait for Saturday’s sudden-death A-League preliminary final against Perth Glory.
The Mariners, who finished on top of the table at the end of the regular season, host Perth at Bluetongue Stadium in the much-anticipated fixture, with the winner set to travel to Brisbane to face the Roar in the 2011-12 Grand Final.
Central Coast coach Graham Arnold has given his side two days off to freshen up for the week ahead – which includes a trip to Korea to meet Seongnam Ilhwa in the AFC Champions League next Wednesday – and Wilkinson believes they will be at their best.
“If anything you enjoy playing the games,” Wilkinson said.
“This is the time of the year that you want to be involved in. The AFC Champions League is a fantastic competition that we’re fully embracing and enjoying. And it’s the finals series so it’s not like it’s tough to get up for games at the moment.”
Wilkinson expects his side to face a tough test against Perth, who have won five of their last six matches, including a 3-2 extra time win over the Wellington Phoenix in Saturday’s knockout semi-final.
The skipper believes his team will take heart from their 3-2 defeat to the Brisbane Roar in the major semi-final on Sunday though, which saw them lose 5-2 on aggregate.
“They’re (Glory) on a good roll,” he said.
“They’ve probably scored 10 goals in the last three games so they’re definitely going to be tough.
“But obviously we’re at home and as ‘Arnie’ (Arnold) said the performance (against Brisbane) was pretty good.
“A lesser team at 2-0 down (from the first leg) could’ve chucked it in and it could have been four or five. But the spirit we’ve got in the change room is fantastic here, the boys always work for each other – there’s a great belief in each other.”