EXCLUSIVE: A jubilant Perth Glory coach Ian Ferguson says the pressure is all on Brisbane Roar ahead of next Sunday’s A-League Grand Final between the two sides.
Glory booked their first ever A-League Grand Final appearance after a heart-stopping penalty shootout win over Central Coast in Saturday’s Grand Final qualifier. They play Roar who qualified over the Mariners in the Major Semi Final.
The former Rangers legend told his players today they would remain in Perth till this Friday.
The squad will then fly to the Queensland capital for Sunday’s big match in front of an expected 52,000 sea of orange.
And Ferguson will drum into his players the fact that there is little pressure on them with most punters and bookies tipping a Roar landslide win – just like last time they met at Suncorp with the home side savaging Glory 4-0.
“It’s a cup final and anything can happen in a cup final,” an upbeat Ferguson told au.fourfourtwo.com.
“I’ve said to these boys since Christmas, every game is like a Cup Final for us. But this one is the real deal.
“My message to the boys will be simple. Go and enjoy it because you may never reach such a game again. Enjoy it but stay focused and with the right attitude.”
Ferguson played in 13 Cup finals and won nine of them as a player back in Scotland.
But it’s those losses that Ferguson will use to drive home part of his pre-game message.
“Those four I lost stick in my head. It’s a horrible feeling. You don’t want to come back into the dressing with your head in your hands," he said.
“We’re always underdogs no matter where we go we get the underdog tag.
“I said it before the game, nobody gave us a chance and the boys went out there and proved a lot of people wrong,” he said when asked about Saturday night’s historic shootout win."
He added: “We will give every single player the rest they need at this moment in time."
On such player is Andrezinho. The Glory winger will head straight to hospital when he arrives in Perth to have a hip/groin injury scanned.
Ferguson said the Brazilian livewire was the only Glory player under an injury cloud.
As for the Asian Champions League spot in 2013, there remains uncertainty about whether Glory has now qualified to play in the tournament.
Meanwhile, Ferguson played down Central Coast coach Graham Arnold’s comments post match.
Arnold pointed to refereeing decisions going against his “smaller” club, including Shane Smeltz’s first half equaliser, which replays showed was fractionally offside.
And while saying he didn’t feel bitter Arnold suggested he’d rather make the final 16 of the ACL than make an A-League grand final.
“At the end of the day it’s up to him what he wants to come out and say and put out there,” said Ferguson.
“He may feel aggrieved that the goal was offside or something wrong with the goal, but at the same time I don’t think their penalty was a penalty and fortunately for us they miss it.
“So it’s swings and roundabouts
“To get to where we are at this moment in time is massive and I’m absolutely delighted for everyone at the club and for the fans.”
Club owner Tony Sage watched the game live and was ecstatic after Saturday's final.
He is set to put on a fans’ charter flight from Perth to Brisbane for the grand final.
“I’m pleased for him. It’s nice to get to a grand final. I’ve said it before he could’ve easily put me out of the door at Christmas but he stuck by me and showed me the faith and support," said Ferguson.
He added: “It’s like a dream come true right now. It’s like a fairytale.”