Mariners in high spirits ahead of final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mariners in high spirits ahead of final

By Philip Henderson 13/05/2005 07:26:50 PM Comments (0)

The laughter at Central Coast Mariners' training on Friday may have seemed a bit premature.

But after exceeding most "experts" expectations to make the final of the Club World Championship soccer qualifiers on Sunday, you could argue the Mariners could already be afforded the last laugh.

Coach Lawrie McKinna is still annoyed with how most commentators had written-off the Mariners as also-rans before a ball was kicked this week.

But it hardly showed as he watched his side prepare for Sunday's showdown with Sydney FC at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford.

"The boys are buzzing," McKinna said. "We're having a bit of fun, a bit of a laugh."

While the Mariners were enjoying themselves on Friday, Sydney FC can expect to face a no-nonsense, determined Central Coast outfit come Sunday.

McKinna predicted a derby-type atmosphere for the all-NSW clash with both teams playing for a berth in the championship's Oceania qualifiers in Tahiti, and a possible $1 million payday for entry into the tournament finals.

Victory on Sunday would cap-off a Cinderella story McKinna could hardly have scripted better.

Neighbouring "glamour" clubs Sydney FC and the Newcastle Jets - with marquee signings, celebrity backers and red-carpet launches - drew all the attention ahead of the knock-out competition.

But the Mariners have since made the biggest noise.

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