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GRAHAM ARNOLD...'Game should have been delayed'
CENTRAL Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold has launched a scathing attack on the A-League, saying their refusal to delay games in extreme heat is 'crazy' and devastating for player welfare.
Arnold was incensed the Mariners' game against Perth at nib Stadium on Sunday went ahead at the scheduled kick-off time at 4.30pm even though the temperature was 36.2 degrees then and stayed above 30 until the end of the match.
Central Coast went on to lose 1-0 on the back of a Matt Ryan howler which gifted Travis Dodd a goal, but Arnold said he was still proud of his team's effort in the heat and on the back of their incredible travel schedule.
Arnold, who claims he has spoken to FFA about the issue several times, said it was outrageous to expect teams to play in those conditions, even though the weather was no excuse for the loss.
"I just want some sense. It's crazy playing football in those conditions," he said. "There were two doctors and a match commissioner who made the decision.
"When our doctor turned up ... he said the match should be delayed by an hour, it's too hot. But the other doctor said it was okay.
"I just worry about player welfare. That Jacob Burns injury [a suspected broken rib picked up in a collision with Josh Rose] probably wouldn't have happened in a game of normal time because he would have been able to get out of the way.
"But because they're over fatigued, and their brains aren't functioning properly and their reflexes aren't as sharp, that's what happens.
"It's something PFA need to look at ... There's about five or six dizzy boys in our dressing room."
Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson backed up his coach's assessment, saying it hurt not only the players' health but the quality of the match.
"It's not only us. There's other teams kicking off at this time and it's ridiculous," he said. "If we're the last game on a Sunday, why do we need to kick off at 4 o'clock? Why can't we kick off at seven?
"I know it's for the eastern states and it's going to be late, but who cares? The players have got to come first."
The loss left the Mariners with a lead of just two points at the top of the table heading into the final two rounds, but Arnold was delighted with their performance given the huge toll travelling to China for their Asian Champions League game mid-week had taken.
"It was an unbelievable effort by my players to do what they did out there today," he said. "How do you go into a dressing room after a game, and you've lost a game or drawn the game, and you look at these guys who have nearly killed themselves in this heat?
"You can't be critical of them. Their effort was fantastic."
Arnold said he maintained faith in Ryan even though his horrendous error ended up gifting Perth the three points, claiming the heat had contributed to the blunder.
He said young striker Bernie Ibini had suffered a twisted knee which was likely to rule him out of Wednesday's Olyroos game against Iraq.