Gold Coast United captain Jason Culina admits the team needs to improve sharply this week to be any chance of taking the Championship this season.
United fell to fellow A-League newcomer North Queensland Fury 2-1 on Saturday, compounding the disappointment of the 1-0 home loss the week before to Wellington Phoenix, and could only manage to finish third meaning they will go into a knockout final against the Newcastle Jets this weekend.
Culina says a dip in confidence has put extra pressure on the players and he is acutely aware that things need to get much better on and off the track this week.
"We still feel we can go all the way but we have been down on confidence and the pressure of needing to beat Wellington and then North Queensland to cement a top two spot clearly got to us," said Culina.
"There's also the element of inexperience kicking in. That's been a big factor."
Culina will again lock horns with his father, Jets coach Branko, but said sentimental thoughts were non-existent ahead of a game of this magnitude.
"It's a shame that one of us has to go out at such an early stage of the finals but so be it," he added.