Central Coast coach Graham Arnold is eager to ensure the club's good form extends into May with a win over Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol.
Central Coast coach Graham Arnold is eager to ensure the club's good form extends into May with a win over Japan-s Kashiwa Reysol in Tuesday night's crucial AFC Champions League game.
The Mariners understand a win over the “Sun Kings” or any other result than victory for Guizhou Renhe against Suwon Bluewings in China will see them advance to the knockout phase of Asia-s premier club competition for the first time.
However Arnold and his championship-winning team want to seal their progression to the last 16 on merit rather than by relying on the K-League Classic outfit doing them a favour in south-west China.
“We want to extend our season by one month,” Arnold said at the team-s official pre-match press conference on Monday. “We don-t want to be looking at the last 16 games, we want to be a part of it. We-re desperate to be a part of it.”
“For me tomorrow night is as big as the (A-League) Finals Series.”
“After the wonderful result last week against Suwon in South Korea against all odds we-ve put ourselves in a position where everything is in our hands. We don-t have to rely on the other result.”
A round of 16 tie against Chinese Super League heavyweights Guangzhou Evergrande (coached by Italian 2006 FIFA World Cup winning boss, Marcello Lippi, no less), or former Mariners captain Alex Wilkinson-s Jeonbuk Hyundai side awaits Central Coast should they defeat Nelsinho Baptista-s Reysol.
Arnold insists that after the euphoria of claiming the 2013 A-League Championship combined with the Club-s first ever away triumph in the AFC Champions League, the Mariners of 2013 are ready to build on the proud legacy they have established for themselves.
“I think we-re better prepared for Reysol then we were for the other Group games because we were in three competitions at once with the Premiership - the (A-League) Finals Series and the Asian Champions League.
“(Now) we can solely focus on the one thing. We-ve had a week to prepare for this game.”
“They (the Mariners players) looked fantastic today at training and obviously there are a lot of smiles on faces because of the Grand Final win.”
Arnold said it would be an “unbelievable” accomplishment for the A-League-s only true regional Club to qualify for the last 16 of Asia-s top club tournament.
“We had three goals at the start of the season,” he outlined. “One was to try and win the Premiership again, to win the Grand Final and to reach the last 16 of the Asian Champions League. The Asian Champions League was one of our main goals after the Grand Final.”
“If we play to our best we are confident we can get to the last 16 which would be a unbelievable for the smallest Club in Australia.”
And what if Guangzhou Evergrande, one of the richest Clubs in Asia, if not the world, were to arrive in Gosford in May?
“Marcello Lippi would capture the imagination of the fans the way that (Alessandro) Del Piero has in Sydney,” Arnold said. “A lot of Italians would come up for the game. It would be a huge thing for the game here in Australia.”
Central Coast Mariners (AUS) vs. Kashiwa Reysol (JPN) - 2013 AFC Champions League Matchday 5 Tuesday 30 April, 2013 Central Coast Stadium, Gosford Kick-off: 8:30pm AEST $10 Tickets: Please CLICK HERE to purchase tickets to the match. Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter! The official match hash tag is #CCMvKR