Central Coast coach Phil Moss has blasted the A-League finals scheduling following his team’s 1-0 elimination final triumph over Adelaide on Saturday evening which came in front of 9,045 enthusiastic fans in Gosford.
A Bernie Ibini goal with 23 minutes left on the clock was the lone strike in an entertaining match which saw Adelaide dominate possession but also saw the Mariners with enjoy their own moments of positivity in attack before they got the result to put them 90 minutes away from back-to-back grand final appearances.
The Mariners now face a short turnaround before they play Sanfrecce Hiroshima on Wednesday in the AFC Champions League prior to meeting the Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday in Parramatta.
A diabolical travel diary, coupled with the fact the club could not get the best available flights, will result in the A-League’s reigning title-holders side travelling for almost three days in total over the course of the next week before arriving in Sydney barely 24 hours before their semi-final against the Western Sydney Wanderers.
"Obviously not happy," said Moss, whose side will not get to Hiroshima until Monday morning following a flight to Tokyo on Sunday and an overnight stay.
"I think these things need to be thought through more for two reasons, player welfare and the product, I think both those things are put in jeopardy when you have to get off an overnight flight from Asia and you don’t have time for a session and you have to back up and play a grand final qualifier the next day (Saturday.)"
Moss conceded he has been given an explanation, even if he is not happy with it.
"Damien de Bohun (A-league boss) has been great he has given me his time this week, we have talked it through.
"He has given me the reasons, I still think it’s avoidable and it’s something that has to be seriously looked at for the future because the ACL has taken Australian football ahead in leaps and bounds.
"We have to respect that competition but we have to respect the (A-League) teams that are in it and give them every chance of been successful in both competitions. A 24 hour turnaround from flying in from an overnight fight to playing in a grand final qualifier is not acceptable."
"Damien said to me it was ground availability… so Pirtek Stadium must have a rugby league game on the Sunday, but I’ve heard whispers in the corridors that there is no game of rugby league on Sunday so I don’t know, you would have to ask the decision makers.”
The Parramatta Eels NRL side, the other tenants of the Wanderers’ home ground, don’t have a game on Sunday making the move all the more puzzling with rumours circulating that is was a Brisbane Roar request to play on Sunday which bumped the grand final replay to the Saturday timeslot.
Aside from the scheduling controversy a proud Moss was happy with the tactical adjustments his side has made over recent weeks and was also pleased with how his game plan forced Adelaide into changes.
"Our principles of our defensive structure haven’t changed at all, it’s just at times Monty (Nick Montgomery) defends a little bit deeper," said Moss of the Mariners 'back five' of recent weeks.
"I thought Monty was again outstanding tonight, his experience really shone through and the way he lead the team was magnificent.
"But at times tonight when they changed their tactics and played with no out-and-out number nine we have to change and having that adaptability and flexibility is testament to our players."
A pleased Moss noted.
"When a team like Adelaide comes to Gosford and changes their tactical plan for the first time this season I think it shows how much respect our squad has got amongst the league.
"For Josep (Gombau) to come here and feel that he had to do that is a massive complement to our team."
Moss confirmed the Mariners will travel with 18 players to Japan for the Sanfrecce Hiroshima match with Matt Simon and Montgomery unavailable due to suspension whilst Marcel Seip and Tom Slater are out injured.comments