Soccer-Proud Jackson credits unity as Mariners stand on cusp of treble


(Reuters) - Central Coast Mariners coach Mark Jackson claimed the Australian soccer club's united front was the reason behind a record breaking season that sees the Gosford-based outfit standing on the cusp of a historic haul of silverware.

Central Coast drew 0-0 with Sydney FC on Saturday to complete a 2-1 aggregate win in the A-League semi-finals and set-up a grand final clash with Melbourne Victory on the Central Coast next weekend.

With the A-League Premier's Plate and the continental AFC Cup already in their trophy cabinet this season, a win over Victory on Saturday would see Central Coast complete a treble that has never previously been achieved by an Australian club.

"It's a special place to be, everybody's working together and everybody singing from the same hymn sheet as regards to what we want to do and what we want to achieve," said Jackson.

"The fans, as well, to top that off, to get a sell-out crowd and get behind the team in windy, cold conditions, I'm so proud of the club.

"We've got one more game to go, we've managed to secure a grand final at our home stadium for the first time, so really, really proud of that."

The Englishman has overseen a remarkable campaign in his first season in charge since replacing Nick Montgomery in the wake of last year's A-League grand final win over Melbourne City.

Despite a slow start, Central Coast finished on top of the A-League's regular season standings while also travelling more than 100,000 km (62,000 miles) during a gruelling, title-winning debut appearance in the AFC Cup.

"The mentality and the mindset of the players is massive," Jackson said.

"We always say football's played in the mind and the psychological elements of the game are massive. We've dealt with some big occasions of late and the players dealt with a big occasion tonight."

Jackson's team stand one win from making history, but the former Milton Keynes Dons manager insisted little will change in the build-up to the meeting with Tony Popovic's side.

"We'll stick to the process of what we do," he said. "We've got fantastic staff around us and we'll have other commitments with regards the media and stuff like that, and rightly so.

"But that won't take away from our focus as a team. We've got into a really good rhythm of how we work now and we'll do that."

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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