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Mariners to embrace grand final home comforts: Vukovic

3 minute read

Home advantage can help drive Central Coast to back-to-back A-League Men titles as they host Melbourne Victory in the grand final, Mariners' Danny Vukovic says.

DANNY VUKOVIC. Picture: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Danny Vukovic is urging the Central Coast Mariners to make home advantage count as they seek to seal a unique treble with a win over Melbourne Victory in the A-League Men grand final.

The Mariners have appeared in five previous grand finals but have yet to play a championship decider in Gosford, with their 2008 'home' clash against Newcastle Jets re-located to the Sydney Football Stadium over capacity concerns.

This season, the Australian Professional Leagues have softened their stance, paving the way for the Mariners to play on their home deck in front of a sold-out 20,000-strong crowd on Saturday.

It is a massive boost for the Mariners, who are undefeated at home since November last year.

And while roughly 3000 Melbourne Victory fans will be at the game, experienced goalkeeper Vukovic knows how valuable the hometown support will be to the Mariners' bid to win a second successive title.

"It's an advantage to us in having the majority of the support," Vukovic said.

"We saw that last season (when the Mariners faced Melbourne City at 'neutral' CommBank Stadium in Sydney).

"I've been to grand finals where we've had to go away and it is difficult.

"But we know Melbourne Victory will be up for the game.

"They've had to play away in Wellington in front of a packed house there, so we know we have to be at our best if we want to win the game."

"You dream of outcomes like this and you hope for the best, but a lot of the time you don't get to this game at the end of the season - I've been in the game long enough to know that.

"To lead the boys out will be one of the highlights of my career.

"If we can get the job done it will go down in history and that's a huge incentive for us."

Victory, as Vukovic noted, have shown their ability to dig deep when the odds are stacked against them.

Tony Popovic's side showed great resolve to beat Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand in last weekend's semi-final second leg, while two of their three finals games have gone to extra time.

"We'll have some good support, but we know we're away from home," Popovic said.

"We know we're at the current champions' home ground and they've had a fantastic season with two trophies.

"It's a difficult task but we come here with a lot of confidence as well. We're here because we've earned the right to get here.

"(On Saturday) we'll have to earn the right to win it and we're open to any situation in getting our hands on that trophy.

"Whether that's in 90 (minutes) or 120 or penalties, we have to be prepared for a real battle."

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