Central Coast coach Alen Stajcic is expecting to face a motivated Western Sydney Wanderers in their first A-League appearance since Markus Babbel's sacking.
Central Coast coach Alen Stajcic is expecting a fired-up Western Sydney for Sunday's A-League clash in Gosford.
The Wanderers will be playing their first match since the sacking of German coach Markus Babbel.
Interim boss Jean Paul de Marigny has had two full weeks to prepare for the match against the Mariners after last weekend's bye and Stajcic is anticipating a response from his opposition.
"They've got a new coach so a new motivation and that always changes the dynamics in a team and a club," Stajcic said.
"Someone like JP whose been around for a very long time, he's very experienced, so I'm sure he'll know how to get the best out of his team for this game.
"It's an important game for both teams considering our positions on the ladder."
A 1-0 loss to Perth Glory was the final straw for the Wanderers' hierarchy, with the club having won just one of their past 11 matches and dropping to ninth on the ladder.
The Mariners have been held goalless in their past two matches, losses to Western United and Brisbane Roar, leaving them a point behind the Wanderers in 10th position.
They have improved their player stocks with the signing of forward Chris Harold for the remainder of the season.
Harold joins the Mariners following his departure from a long stint at Perth Glory, where he scored 21 goals across 140 appearances.
Olyroos pair Tass Mourdoukoutas and Keanu Baccus will return for the Wanderers after helping Australia qualify for Tokyo 2020 while new signing Simon Cox is expected to feature as well.
De Marigny said having a full fortnight to prepare for the match had been beneficial.
"We worked a lot on our mindset," he said. "We tweaked a couple of things tactically.
"The boys have responded really well. They're in a good space and enjoyed a couple of weeks."
KEY MATCH STATS
* Western Sydney have lost just three of their past 17 matches against the Mariners, although one of those was a 3-1 defeat last time they travelled to Gosford.
* Mariners goalkeeper Mark Birighitti will make his 100th A-League appearance on Sunday. His tally of 59 saves this season is a league-high number.
* Ex-Mariner Mitchell Duke is the Wanderers' leading scorer this season with five goals, including the club's last strike on New Year's Day against Brisbane Roar.