Mariners primed for ACL clash

They might be fighting an uphill battle to host the Hyundai A-League Grand Final, but the Central Coast Mariners are in an upbeat mood as their AFC Champions League campaign continues in Gosford on Tuesday night.

They might be fighting an uphill battle to host the Hyundai A-League Grand Final, but the Central Coast Mariners are in an upbeat mood as their AFC Champions League campaign continues.

The battle-hardened Mariners take on K-League club Seongnam Ilwha Chunma at Gosford Stadium in their third match of the Champions League.

The match comes only three days after the Mariners lost the first leg of the Hyundai A-League major semi-final against Brisbane 2-0.

So far the Mariners have picked up two impressive draws in the Champions League against Tianjin Teda in China and then shared the points at Gosford against Japanese heavyweights Nagoya Grampus.

While the performances have been solid the Mariners know the key to advancing beyond the group stages for the first time is winning home matches and Tuesday night's match is perhaps the club's best chance to pick up maximum points.

Captain Alex Wilkinson admits the team's schedule has been demanding, but believes the run of matches has been good for the side.

"We'd rather be playing matches than training so the schedule has been good for us," Wilkinson said.

"We've worked very hard over a long time now and this is the time of the year you want to be playing matches. We'll be ready."

Wilkinson was his usual demanding self in defence against Nagoya Grampus last month and will need to be on his game again against a dangerous Seongnam outfit.

It has been the defensive structure that has been such a vital factor during the club's charge in the A-League this season.