ACL Preview: Nagoya v Central Coast

The final game of the group stage couldn't be scripted any better with the winner of this match to win through to the knockout stage.

Date: Tuesday 15 May, 2012 Kick-off: 8pm AEST, 7pm local Venue: Mizuho Athletic Stadium

Head-to-head Played: 1 Wins: Nagoya 0, Central Coast 0, Drawn: 1

Previous encounter Central Coast 1, Nagoya 1, 21 March 2012

History: In the only previous meeting between these two clubs, the Mariners fought back from a goal down to draw 1-1, with Patrick Zwaanswijk's header cancelling out Markus Tulio Tanaka's opener. Central Coast have never beaten Japanese opposition in three meetings, with two losses against Kawasaki Frontale in the 2009 ACL competition.

Form: Past five matches: Nagoya: DLDLW Central Coast: DLLLW

Nagoya ended a difficult period with a win in their last match, a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Vissel Kobe on the weekend. Keiji Tamada's goal handed Nagoya their first win in four matches in the J-League to leave them in eighth position on the table.

After a difficult month which saw them knocked out of the Hyundai A-League finals in straight sets, the Mariners surged back to form in a big way with a 5-1 thrashing of Tianjin Teda in the last match a fortnight ago.

The victory was not only their first since wrapping up the Premier's Plate on the final day of the Hyundai A-League season, it was also their first in this season's ACL and kept alive their hopes for progression to the knockout stage of the tournament. A win over Nagoya would see Graham Arnold's side progress to the last 16.

Match Committee: The Mariners have been dealt a blow with in-form defender Pedj Bojic suspended. The attack-minded right-back set up two goals in the last match so his absence will be felt in a game the club must win. One of the Trent's - Trent Sainsbury or Trent McClenahan is likely to come into the side to replace Bojic. Oliver Bozanic (knee) and Troy Hearfield (back) have also been ruled out through injury. There are no fresh injury concerns for Nagoya.

Danger men: Marcus Tulio Tanaka - The marauding centre-back is effectively the heartbeat of this Nagoya side. Tulio is not only a tough-tackling defender but he also has a knack of popping up with important goals at the other end, as he showed in the previous meeting between the two clubs. Was part of the Urawa side that won the ACL in 2007 so is no stranger to what it takes to be successful in this competition. The Mariners will also need to keep a close eye on Qantas Socceroos striker John Kennedy, who has three goals in just five J-League appearances this season.

Daniel McBreen - He spent most of the Hyundai A-League season stuck behind the likes of Bernie Ibini, Adam Kwasnik and John Sutton but McBreen still has plenty to offer. The experienced striker showed that in the Mariners' last game, scoring the opening two goals in the 5-1 thrashing of Tianjin.

His power will be crucial to Central Coast's chances of springing an upset in Japan. Playmaker Mustafa Amini will also be keen for a big game in what could be his last appearance for the club before joining German giants Borussia Dortmund next season.

At the end of the day… The final game of the group stage couldn't be scripted any better with the winner of this match to win through to the knockout stage. Nagoya head into the do-or-die battle in a slightly better position, playing on their home ground and knowing that a draw will be enough to get them through.

However knowing only a win will do might just work perfectly for the resurgent Mariners. Their hopes of progression looked dead and buried before their last match but their huge win means their fate is well and truly in their hands.

The club has also been boosted with the re-signing of coach Graham Arnold, who pledged his future to the club last week. It was thought Arnold to Sydney was a done-deal but his decision to stay has lifted the mood at the Mariners and may just give his jaded squad that extra incentive to get over the line in the hostile atmosphere of the Mizuho Athletic Stadium.