EXCLUSIVE: Mariners star Danny Vukovic blasts the A-League’s finals format – as he reveals why he loves being their oldest player during underdog run at the title
- Danny Vukovic isn’t a fan of finals format
- Believes it doesn’t reward consistency
- Mariners are one game from grand final
- Need to beat Adelaide at Gosford
- Other semi is Melbourne City v Sydney FC
Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic has slammed the finals format of the A-League, believing the top two teams deserve a bigger advantage.
Speaking ahead of his side’s second leg grand final qualifier on Saturday night at Gosford against Adelaide, the veteran shot-stopper said it doesn’t reward consistency.
‘As it stands, you can finish mid-table, fifth or sixth, win an elimination game then host a semi-final,’ the 38-year-old told Daily Mail Australia.
‘From a player perspective, that seems a bit strange.
‘Personally, I think if you finish in the top two, you should host a winner takes all game a week before the grand final.
Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic has slammed the finals format of the A-League, believing the top two teams deserve a bigger advantage
Vukovic, 38, is also relishing his full circle moment, having chalked up 104 appearances between 2005 and 2010 for the Mariners before returning to the club this season
‘Thankfully we are still alive and can’t wait for to play in front of our fans this weekend….it would be special with this group of players, but we aren’t getting ahead of ourselves, Adelaide are a very good side.’
Vukovic is also relishing his full circle moment at the club.
It is the gloveman’s second stint with the Mariners, after chalking up 104 appearances between 2005 and 2010.
Now the oldest player by eight years, he loves being the elder statesman and club captain.
‘I wasn’t enjoying my football in Holland [with NEC Nijmegen] so when Monty [coach Nick Montgomery] outlined his future vision for the club, I was excited to be a part of it,’ he said.
‘The money was good at NEC, I could have stayed there, but I wanted to be playing regularly.
‘Family happiness is also very important to me, so the chance to head back to Australia and be closer to loved ones was very motivating.’
In an impressive career, Vukovic has played in Belgium and Holland – as well as a number of A-League clubs, including Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory (pictured, as a Socceroos squad member at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar)
Vukovic also revealed the club’s community focus remains as strong as ever on the NSW central coast – and they enjoy repeatedly being the underdogs.
‘We don’t have the money or big names that other clubs have and that’s fine, it is the Mariners way,’ he said.
‘The lads did brilliantly to finish second, and the belief is growing.
‘I am hearing tickets sales are good which is great news, as a team we love putting on a show for our fans and representing the region with pride.’
Kick-off on Saturday is 7.45pm at Central Coast Stadium, with limited tickets still available.