FFA Cup Semi-Final Preview: Adelaide United v Central Coast Mariners
When: Wednesday, 12 November 2014
Where: Coopers Stadium, Hindmarsh
Kick-off: 7:00pm local (7:30pm AEDT)
Referee: Chris Beath
TV broadcast: LIVE and exclusive on FOX SPORTS 4 and 4HD
Radio broadcast: ABC Grandstand Digital, online at www.abc.net.au/grandstand and on the ABC Smartphone app
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (GK) (c), 2.Michael MARRONE, 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 5.Osama MALIK, 7.Pablo SÁNCHEZ, 8.ISAÍAS, 9.Sergio CIRIO, 10.Marcelo CARRUSCA, 13.Dylan SMITH, 14.Cameron WATSON, 17.Awer MABIL, 18.Jimmy JEGGO, 20.Paul IZZO (GK), 21.Tarek ELRICH, 22.Fabio FERREIRA, 24.Bruce KOMAU, 32.Nathan KONSTANDOPOULOS
**two to be omitted**
Central Coast Mariners squad: 1.Beyhan IRMARKO (GK), 3.Joshua ROSE, 4.Richi VERNES, 5.Zac ANDERSON, 7.John HUTCHINSON (c), 8.Nick MONTGOMERY, 9.Mitchell DUKE, 12.Liam REDDY (GK), 13.Hayden MORTON, 14.Malick MANÉ, 16.Liam ROSE, 17.Anthony CACERES, 19.Matt SIMON, 25.Eddy BOSNAR, 26.Seung Yong KIM, 27.Isaka CERNAK, 28.Glen TRIFIRO, 29.Matt SIM
**two to be omitted**
In-form Adelaide United will be hot favourites to progress to the inaugural Westfield FFA Cup final when they face the struggling Central Coast Mariners in the semi-finals on Wednesday night.
Josep Gombau's men could only draw 0-0 at home to fellow Hyundai A-League pacesetters Sydney FC on Friday but it wasn't for a lack of trying, the Reds peppering the visitors goal throughout an entertaining 90 minutes at Coopers Stadium.
Their form has also been impressive in the new national knockout competition. Unlike the Mariners, the Reds have had to overcome Hyundai A-League opposition at every stage of the competition, beating Wellington Phoenix, Brisbane Roar and the Sky Blues to reach the last four.
Those early tests appear to have stood Adelaide in good stead, with the South Australian side joint second in the table, one point back from leaders Perth Glory.
Central Coast meanwhile enjoyed a relatively easy run to get to this stage of the Cup, accounting for the South Coast Wolves, Olympic FC and Palm Beach Sharks.
And it may just be a coincidence, but the team from Gosford have made a slow start to say the least in the Hyundai A-League, winning the F3 derby in the opening weekend but then losing their last three in succession, at home to the Phoenix, away to Sydney and at home to Perth on Sunday, their first ever loss to the Western Australians at Central Coast Stadium.
Having done well to replenish the squad and steady the ship in the wake of Graham Arnold's departure last year, Phil Moss now faces the first real test of his leadership.
Upsetting Adelaide to reach the final would be just the tonic for the Mariners' malaise, but that task is far easier said than done.
The Reds have been arguably the Hyundai A-League's most complete team so far in 2014-15, keeping it tight at the back, dominating possession and carving out numerous chances.
Marcelo Carrusca, Sergio Cirio and Awer Mabil were all lively against the Sky Blues, while the likes of Pablo Sanchez, Bruce Kamau and Fabio Ferreira, the latter set to return soon from a hamstring problem, should be able to cope in the absence of centre-forward Bruce Djite, who injured his quadriceps muscle against Sydney.
The Mariners had issues retaining possession at home to Perth and a repeat of that issue raises the prospect of the visitors being starved of the ball at Coopers Stadium.
Jacob Poscoliero has found himself starting in defence alongside Eddy Bosnar and ahead of Zach Anderson in recent weeks and the newcomer is likely for a busy evening to say the least as the Reds look to make amends for their profligacy on Friday.
Anything other than a home win would be a considerable upset on Wednesday, and the high-flying Reds will surely back themselves to make "Adelaide United" the first name to be inscribed on the trophy.
A Central Coast victory meanwhile would be another proud chapter in the Mariners' long tradition of wins against odds.
Either way, it's a cup tie to savour at Coopers Stadium.