The return of captain John Hutchinson in the middle of the pitch will add some needed resilience and heart, and should be enough to get the Mariners over the line.
Date: Tuesday, April 30 2013 Kick-off: 8:30pm AEDT Venue: Bluetongue Stadium, Gosford
Head-to-head: Played 1, lost 1
Form: Past five matches:
Mariners: WWWLW Kashiwa Reysol: LDWLD
The Game: Central Coast Mariners can create history if they beat Kashiwa Reysol in their AFC Asian Champions League clash in Gosford on Tuesday. The newly crowned Hyundai A-League champions have failed to progress to the knockout phase of the competition in their two previous appearances.
But the Mariners, who claimed a stunning 1-0 victory in Suwon on Matchday five, sit second in Group H, four points behind leaders Kashiwa and two clear of rivals Guizhou Renhe heading into Tuesday's final group fixtures.
And the equation is simple for Graham Arnold's men - emerge victorious at Bluetongue and a last-16 berth alongside Kashiwa awaits.
Looking at the Mariners form in Gosford, you wouldn't put it past them to get the result they desire.
The Mariners are unbeaten in their last five Asian Champions League games, a run stretching back to last season however they are yet to beat Japanese opposition on home soil.
But even if results don't go the Mariners' way on Tuesday, they can still make it out of the group if hosts Guizhou fail to beat Suwon, who have already been eliminated.
Kashiwa are coming off a 4-0 defeat to J. League leaders Omiya Ardija but have won their last two away fixtures in the competition, beating Guizhou and Suwon comfortably.
The big issue: Mariners - Can they backup for their third game in nine games? The Mariners have defied all odds to put themselves in the box seat for qualification. 24 hours after claiming their first A-League crown, the Gosford-based outfit travelled to Suwon and shocked the Bluewings. Three games in nine days is a tough ask but Graham Arnold's side have proved on more than one occasion this season, they are up for the challenge.
Kashiwa Reysol - Nelsinho Baptista's men have already sealed progression to the last 16 but they will be determined to create some sort of momentum ahead of Monday's J. League meeting with second-placed Yokohama F. Marinos. Kashiwa were easily beaten 4-0 by domestic pacesetters Omiya Ardija and sit 11th in the standings, 20 points off the pace after eight rounds.
The game breaker: Leandro Domingues - The Brazilian attacker was a handful in the pairs previous meeting in March, netting a brace. Since that game, the former Cruzeiro man, who recently returned from injury, has scored against Vegalta Sendai and most recently against Nagoya Grampus.
Prediction: Mariners 3-2 Kashiwa Reysol The Mariners have proved to be big-game performers not only this season but throughout their existence and I don't expect anything different on Tuesday. The return of captain John Hutchinson in the middle of the pitch will add some needed resilience and heart, and should be enough to get the Mariners over the line.