Kennedy ruled out of Mariners clash

Qantas Socceroos striker Joshua Kennedy has been ruled out Nagoya Grampus' side ahead of their vital AFC Champions League group clash with the Central Coast Mariners.

Qantas Socceroos striker Joshua Kennedy has been ruled out Nagoya Grampus' side ahead of their vital AFC Champions League group clash with the Central Coast Mariners. Kennedy has battled a back problem in recent weeks but played almost a whole game in Saturday's J-League win over Vissel Kobe.

But Nagoya coach Dragan Stojkovic said Kennedy would not face the Mariners, in a clash where the winner will progress to the knockout stage.

"Kennedy will not be in the team," Stojkovic declared.

"There is some problems with his condition. I respect his decision, so he will be out.

In a tight group, Seongnam sit on top of the table with seven points, edging out second-placed Nagoya on goal difference heading into the final group clash of the campaign.

Central Coast, however, are just one point behind in second position ahead of Chinese club Tianjin, who will host Seongnam in their final game in front of an empty stadium as their fans have been banned due to recent crowd trouble.

With just a point between Nagoya and Central Coast, whoever wins their clash will secure second and possibly finish on top of the group.

"Tomorrow is an important and interesting game because both teams have a chance," Stojkovic said.

"Winning the game is the most important thing for tomorrow."

The Mariners have not played a competitive game since they thrashed Tianjin 5-1 in matchday five, following the conclusion of their domestic season.

Central Coast coach Graham Arnold is hopeful the extended break will ensure his side is fresh for the game, despite the absence of Oliver Bozanic, Troy Hearfield [both injury] and Pedj Bojic [suspension].

"In our last performance we beat Tianjin 5-1 and the players were extremely fresh and fit and we have worked hard on the training ground with a friendly in between to get ready," Arnold said.