Even Football Gods won’t save the Mariners

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Central Coast Mariners Bernie Ibini pulls at the shirt of the Melbourne Heart's Curtis Good. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

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According to my belief system, there is no god but football gods. They are there to remind us that the beautiful game, like life, is not just about winning and losing.

This was the case last Wednesday night when I had a horrible feeling that AAMI Park was about to be visited by these omniscient beings.

With five minutes left in the match between Melbourne Heart and Central Coast Mariners I looked at the football sage sitting next to me. In that instance, as if we had become mediums, we channeled the same thought. The football gods were about to pay us a visit.

A rampant Melbourne Heart, who should have been two or three goals to the good, were about to experience a painful defeat.

This eventuality was aided by Mariner’s goalkeeper Matt Ryan, who should have worn his underpants outside his shorts, as he stopped everything that came his way.

When Michael McGlinchey picked up the ball on the right we called it in.

It was like watching a slow motion replay. He tormented Rutger Worm, who was too mindful of his right foot, cut inside and delivered a cross with his left. A paralysed Brendan Hamill watched helplessly as the ball sailed past him for Adam Kwasnik to deliver the coup d’grace.

Like life itself, the result proved, yet again, football’s capacity to deliver an injustice. The better side does not always win and happy endings only are only guaranteed in Hollywood movies; no wonder many Americans have such a hard time embracing the game.

“We got three points we didn’t deserve tonight,” Mariners manager, Graham Arnold said after the match.

“To lose a game like that at the end is very hard,” said the crestfallen Heart manager, John van’t Schip.

Arnold is no stranger to this desolate feeling.

A feeling he hopes not to revisit in April when the football gods cast their eye over this season’s A-League Grand Final.

Unfortunately for Arnold I can’t see the Mariners winning the championship, let alone reaching the Grand Final.

This time the football gods will take a back seat to football Darwinism. The race to the championship will become a case of survival of the fittest.
The Mariners will struggle to adapt to the punishing schedule of mid-week Asian Champions League matches and A-League finals.

To make things worse they face the prospect of losing some very important players in this period if the Olyroos happen to finish second in their qualifying group. A likely scenario.

It will also be difficult for Brisbane Roar, but if they were to finish one-two as predicted I would be picking only Brisbane to make it to the Grand Final.

Even the football gods won’t be able to save the Central Coast Mariners this time.

Athas Zafiris is on Twitter @ArtSapphire

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