Warning: beware of sharks. It’s normally a sign seen on certain beaches around the country but this is the alert the Palm Beach Sharks are eager to put into the minds of the Central Coast Mariners when the two sides meet in their Westfield FFA Cup Quarter Final on Tuesday night.
The club who took out the Queensland Premiership/Championship double in 2014 enters its match in the last eight as clear underdogs, but according to experienced defender Kristian Rees, it is not deterring them from their belief in causing a Cup boilover.
Rees, who has a wealth of Hyundai A-League experience after stints with Adelaide United, Wellington Phoenix and Gold Coast United and is one of the Sharks’ elder statesmen.
Alongside central defensive partner Karl Dodd, Rees says coach Grae Piddick's squad is ready to give it an almighty shake at Cbus Super Stadium.
“We were probably a little bit flat against Bonnyrigg (in the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues Finals Series) so we had the week off after that and since then we’ve just got stuck in at training so we’re looking forward to it and are raring to go,” he told www.theffacup.com.au
“We’ve done a lot of shape work at training and just how we’re going to go into the game.
"The biggest thing we need to overcome, particularly the younger guys in the team, is the nerves and anxiety of playing against an A-League team – our guys just need to know that they can match it with the Mariners and be prepared to get stuck in.”
In a region more renowned for its surf culture, the Palm Beach Sharks are proving that the Gold Coast is an area that also boasts riches in terms of football talent.
The team’s feats this year coupled with the fact they are the sole remaining entrant from the Sunshine State still in the Cup has already significantly raised the club’s profile and increased the exposure of football on the Gold Coast.
Rees hopes the Sharks can leave an even greater footprint on the map by securing a semi finals berth in the Westfield FFA Cup.
Pleasingly for Rees, the Quarter Final against the Mariners will be held at Cbus Super Stadium, the same venue of their Round of 16 triumph.
But also just as significantly for Rees, it is a venue he knows all too well from his tenure at Gold Coast United during the club’s time in the Hyundai A-League.
“It was fantastic to get back out there onto Cbus Stadium, we had a terrific turnout for our Round of 16 match and hopefully we can get more to come and support us tomorrow night,” Rees said.
“Besides the fact we don’t have to travel, probably the other advantages we’ve got is that they (the Mariners) played on the weekend and the weather is possibly a bit warmer up here than in Gosford so hopefully those factors can favour us and we can make the most of it early in the game.”
“But in saying that, the Central Coast Mariners are a strong physical unit and it’s going to be an extremely tough game.”
Kick-Off is at 6.30pm local time (7.30pm AEDT).
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