Retiring captain Mark Milligan says Macarthur FC semi-final 'not about me'

Captain Mark Milligan addressed media ahead of the Macarthur Bulls' elimination semi-final. Picture: Jess Layt
Captain Mark Milligan addressed media ahead of the Macarthur Bulls' elimination semi-final. Picture: Jess Layt

Sunday could be Mark Milligan's last game as an A-League player - but he doesn't want to be the focus of the occasion.

The Macarthur FC captain, and former Socceroos captain, is retiring at the end of this A-League season, and if the Bulls make it through to the grand final, he'll have another week left.

But if they go down to the regular season premiers, Melbourne City FC, in Sunday afternoon's elimination semi-final, that will be full-time on Millsy's long and storied career.

"It's definitely not about me," Milligan said.

"It's more important that the young players understand that this opportunity doesn't come around all the time, and we're very fortunate to be in this position.

"That can change very quickly, so it's important that they take this chance. This is a time for them, and it needs to be about the team."

The 35-year-old, who announced his impending retirement at the start of the month, said he was enjoying his last few weeks playing football and being among the team.

He said the looming end to his playing career had not been at the forefront of his mind.

Milligan said he was thankful to the strong Macarthur fanbase for showing their support throughout the season.

"I thought the fans we had up the Central Coast on the weekend were amazing," he said.

"It makes a difference for us when you look across and see a good away supporting area.

"It's important for the club that we continue to grow and the best way to do that is with good results. There's no better time to do that than at semi-final time."

He said local fans had a "wonderful opportunity" to show their support for the Bulls at the semi-final at Kogarah's Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday afternoon, with free entry for kids with paying adults.

"We want to play in front of fans," Milligan said.

"That's why we play. The more we can get out there, the better."

Coach Ante Milicic addressed media ahead of the Macarthur Bulls' elimination semi-final. Picture: Jess Layt

Coach Ante Milicic addressed media ahead of the Macarthur Bulls' elimination semi-final. Picture: Jess Layt

Coach Ante Milicic said the squad was very focussed on getting a win at the weekend, but they were also mindful of their captain's nearing departure from the team.

"When Millsy addressed the playing group he said that he doesn't want this to be about him, he doesn't want people to think that they owe him something or need to do it for him to send him out on a good note," he said.

"He, last week, wasn't ready for his season to end, and the players were aware of that, but that's not something we speak about.

"These guys want to win every game that they play, whether that's a semi-final, whether it's the first game of the season or a pre-season friendly - that's in them.

"The players will have [Milligan's retirement] in the back of their minds, for sure, but at the same time they're fully aware of how big a game this is for us and every footballer wants to win such a big occasion.

"These boys are no different."

Milicic said the Bulls had a great away record and the change of venue from Melbourne to Kogarah had not affected their preparations.

He said the team was excited to be able to play in front of a crowd and were going to focus all their energy on putting in a good performance.

The coach said he always had faith the club could make it into the finals in their debut season - a rare occurrence in professional sport.

"I was always confident that we'd be around this part of the season, that we'd be involved, based on the players we recruited" Milicic said.

"I've seen their daily behaviours, I know what they can produce on the football field.

"When you bring Mark Milligan to your football club, and Adam Federici and Tommy Oar, that's probably the bare minimum.

"First and foremost we deserve to be here. From round one until the last round of the season, we were in the six.

"We secured a semi-final spot with one game to go.

"There's a lot of belief in our group, and we believe in a one-off game, we've got enough experience to put on a competitive performance and that will be the case on Sunday."

Macarthur FC will take on Melbourne City at Kogarah's Netstrata Jubilee Stadium from 4pm on Sunday.

The final will be broadcast live on Fox Sports and available to stream for free through Kayo Freebies (kayosports.com.au/freebies).

There will also be a delayed broadcast on ABC TV.

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