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Sterjovski keeps a level head

12 April 2013-SBS: Greg Prichard

mile mariners a-league

Experience ... Sterjovski knows anything is possible in sudden-death games (Getty)

Central Coast Mariners attacker Mile Sterjovski said his team isn't taking the hiding it gave Melbourne Victory the last time the two teams met to mean anything.

The Mariners belted Victory 6-2 in driving rain at Bluetongue Stadium in Week 22 but that won't mean a thing on Sunday.

"It doesn't mean anything at all," Sterjovski said of that result. "When it comes to finals football, that doesn't count for anything. We know they're a great team - they play great football when they want to play.

"But we will worry about what we're going to do. If we play our normal game, and stick to the plan, then we know we can win. We're going into the game with confidence - we've had a pretty good season."

The Mariners finished second behind Western Sydney Wanderers on the competition table, and had last weekend off as a result.

"Even the game against the Wanderers, the last time we met, we were unlucky not to win," Sterjovski said.

Victory was missing several players when the Mariners cleaned it up, including Archie Thompson and Marcos Flores. Those two will be available this time around in what is likely to be a much different game.

The other two games between the Mariners and Victory this season finished in draws - 2-2 at Etihad Stadium and 1-1 at Aurora Stadium, Launceston - in which Ange Postecoglou believes his side played some of its best football this season.

Sterjovski said that, as dangerous as Thompson and wide man Marco Rojas can be in attack, the Mariners were well equipped in defence to handle them.

"Rojas is a clever player. He's a good dribbler who likes to run the ball," he said. "You have to cut down his space, because when he gets into space that's when you can get into trouble.

"Archie is a smart player, and very dangerous in front of goal. He likes to use his speed and try to beat the offside trap. You have to hold your nerve against him."

Sterjovski was one of many players, including Daniel McBreen, Josh Rose, Pedj Bojic, Patrick Zwaanswijk, Michael McGlinchey and Nick Montgomery, who were left behind for the trip to China and the AFC Champions League 2-1 loss to Guizhou Renhe on Tuesday night.

They will obviously be fresh to meet Victory, and Sterjovski said the club is very professional when it comes to making sure those who did make the trip recover as well as possible for Sunday's game. The Mariners returned from China on Thursday.

"This sort of process is much better now than it was 10 or 15 years ago - even five years ago," Sterjovski said. "They will just do some specific stuff at training. The training staff will work on getting their legs right after the game and the flight home.

"Adrenalin will take over once they are out on the field on Sunday. This is a huge game and we will all be primed and ready for it."

It remains to be seen how Arnold uses Sterjovski against Victory. He is giving little away about his line-up, having named a 21-man squad. But Sterjovski said he is ready if needed.

"I'm feeling good," Sterjovski said. "But we'll have to wait and see what happens. 'Arnie" will pick the squad that best suits the game we want to play on Sunday, and we'll all support that."

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