Mariners message as Sydney FC prepare to equal A-Leagues record: ‘We don’t want to jinx ourselves’

The treble. It’s Central Coast Mariners’ chance to go where no A-Leagues team has ever gone before.

But, Dan Hall and the reigning Isuzu UTE A-League champions do not want to “jinx” anything heading into Saturday night’s Semi-Final second leg against Sydney FC in Gosford, where a sell-out crowd is expected.

Central Coast hold a 2-1 lead ahead of the return leg as they look to take another step towards an unprecedented treble, having already wrapped up the Premier’s Plate and AFC Cup.


“As a group and staff, we just want to win as much as we can,” Mariners defender Hall told reporters.

“It’s gone okay so far, and we don’t want to look too far in the future.

“That treble talk… we don’t want to jinx ourselves. We’re just going to continue to trust the process.”

“We take it one game as it comes. Hopefully everything goes our way and it does become the case,” he added.

The Mariners are in the box seat thanks to goals from Josh Nisbet and Mikael Doka that helped them see off a nine-man Sky Blues side, who had both Jack Rodwell and Corey Hollman sent off at Allianz Stadium last week.

Central Coast are in action after Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne Victory meet in the other Semi-Final earlier on Saturday, with defending Champions Mariners eyeing back-to-back Grand Finals.

No team in Isuzu UTE A-League history has ever won a Premiership or Championship after losing the first four games of a season, and Mark Jackson’s Mariners have already ticked off one.

STATE OF PLAY: All the details about the Semi-Final second legs with a Grand Final on the line

For five-time champions Sydney FC to reach the decider, they must overturn a first-leg deficit without some key personnel.

Rodwell and Hollman are both suspended, while Joe Lolley will miss the remainder of the season due to injury.

Only three times in Isuzu UTE A-League history has any team won the second leg of a two-legged finals match after losing the first (Western United v Melbourne Victory in 2022, Central Coast Mariners v Newcastle Jets in 2008, Newcastle Jets v Sydney FC in 2007).

As Sydney prepare for their 30th finals game in the competition, equalling Adelaide United (30) for the joint-most of any club in the history of the Isuzu UTE A-League, head coach Ufuk Talay said: “At the end of the day there are things that you can control as a coach and injuries and suspensions are not one of them.

“It’s a little bit like we have our backs against the wall with the injuries and suspensions but this provides the opportunity for other players to step up and enjoy the occasion.

“These things happen and that is why you have a squad and you rely on the depth of that squad and I think we have quality players to come in and step up.”


Head-to-head this season

Round 16: Central Coast 1-3 Sydney FC

The first of two Sydney wins over Central Coast this season came in the form of a 3-1 triumph on the road in February.

The Sky Blues ran rampant early in Gosford, with Rhyan Grant and Anthony Caceres both scoring inside eight minutes before an own goal to Dan Hall made it 3-0 by the 20-minute mark.

The Mariners fought back in the second half but the damage was done as Sydney recorded an impressive 3-1 win.

Round 22: Sydney FC 2-0 Central Coast Mariners

It was the same story in Round 22, as Central Coast travelled to Allianz Stadium – the stage for the first leg of the Semi-Finals – and fell to a 2-0 defeat to Sydney FC.

Caceres scored for the second time against the Mariners this season to put Sydney on top, before Joel King iced the game in the second half with his first A-Leagues goal.

Semi-final first leg: Sydney FC 1-2 Central Coast Mariners

Central Coast Mariners took command of their Semi-Final tie with Sydney FC, coming from a goal down to beat the Sky Blues 2-1 in a game that featured two red cards to the home side.

Sydney took the lead in the first half through full-back Joel King but a Josh Nisbet equaliser on the stroke of half-time brought the Mariners back into the game. A penalty conceded by Anthony Caceres early in the second half led to Mikael Doka’s expertly-taken spot kick as the visitors took a 2-1 lead that they held until the full-time whistle.

Four minutes after Central Coast’s second goal, Jack Rodwell was sent off after referee Ben Abraham reviewed the Sydney defender’s challenge on Christian Theoharous, and returned to the pitch to upgrade the initial yellow card to red, explaining the decision was due to “contact above the ankle” and “studs to the shin.”

Corey Hollman was the next Sky Blue to receive his marching orders, collecting a second yellow card in the 82nd minute after catching Mariners substitute Ronald Barcellos in the face with a high arm.

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  • Sydney FC have won five of their last eight A-League Men games against Central Coast Mariners at Industree Group Stadium (D1 L2) including a 3-1 win in their most recent meeting there (February 2024); though, this will be the first time they’ve met at the venue in the finals.
  • Central Coast Mariners have won their last six consecutive A-League Men games, their joint-longest winning streak in the competition alongside their six straight wins from November to December in 2011; though, their last defeat in the competition came against Sydney FC in March 2024.
  • Central Coast Mariners have lost three of their last four home legs in two-legged finals matches in the A-League Men; though, all three of those defeats came against Brisbane Roar from 2009 to 2012 and they did defeat Adelaide United 2-0 in their most recent such fixture (2023).
  • Only three times in A-League Men history has any team won the second leg of a two-legged finals match after losing the first (Western United vs Melbourne Victory in 2022, Central Coast Mariners vs Newcastle Jets in 2008, Newcastle Jets vs Sydney FC in 2007).
  • This will be Sydney FC’s 30th finals game in the A-League Men, equalling Adelaide United (30) for the joint-most of any club in the history of the competition while only Melbourne Victory (17) have won more finals games than Sydney FC (15) including shoot-out results.
  • Sydney FC have scored (13) and conceded (2) the fewest goals in the first 15 minutes of games of any team this A-League Men season, while Central Coast Mariners (2) have scored the joint-fewest goals during this period of any team in the campaign (also Perth Glory – 2).
  • Jacob Farrell (Central Coast Mariners) has won 67% of 272 duels this A-League Men season, the highest success rate of any player to contest at least 100 duels this campaign; in fact, Farrell has also logged one goal and one assist across his last three games in the competition.
  • Fábio Gomes (Sydney FC) has contested (174) and won (92) more aerial duels than any other player in the 2023-24 A-League Men season while Alou Kuol (54) is the only Central Coast Mariners player to have won 50+ aerial duels.