Preview: Pohang v Central Coast
Central Coast must break through for its first win of its debut AFC Champions League campaign in Korea this week if it is to maintain any hope of progressing to the second round.
Date: Tuesday May 5 Kick-off (AEST): 2:00pm AEST (1pm local) Venue: Pohang Steelers TV coverage: Fox Sports 3 (Live)
Results so far:
Pohang Steelers: Central Coast 0, Pohang Steelers 0, Bluetongue Stadium, March 11 Pohang Steelers 1, Kawasaki Frontale 1, Pohang Steelyard, March 18 Pohang Steelers 1, Tianjin Teda 0, Pohang Steelyard, April 8 Tianjin Teda 0, Pohang Steelers 0, Pohang Steelyard, April 21
Central Coast: Central Coast 0, Pohang Steelers 0, Bluetongue Stadium, March 11 Tianjin Teda 2, Central Coast 2, Tianjin Teda Stadium, March 18 Central Coast 0, Kawasaki Frontale 5, Bluetongue Stadium, April 8 Kawasaki Frontale 2, Central Coast Mariners 1, Todoroki Stadium, April 21
Analysis: Central Coast must break through for its first win of its debut AFC Champions League campaign in Korea this week if it is to maintain any hope of progressing to the second round.
With just two points from four games, the Mariners can thank the inconsistency of two of the other three teams for keeping them in the running. Their opponent this week, Pohang, has six points, and a win here would all-but guarantee the Korean FA Cup champion a spot in the final 16.
Lawrie McKinna's men showed a bit of ticker in the away match to Kawasaki Frontale, going down 2-1 after the Japanese team pinched a goal in the final ten minutes. It was certainly an improvement on the 5-0 drubbing they got in their home match a couple of weeks earlier.
The problem though is that the Mariners could not put away Pohang when the two met at Bluetongue in the first game and the Korean side has been on the improve since then, drawing two and winning one in the ACL.
Their form in the K-League has been very consistent with just one loss from their opening seven games, which has included five draws. They drew their most recent game 0-0 against Daejeon Citizen on Friday.
If there is one fault with the Steelers it is their inability to score a lot of goals, having managed just nine in seven games domestically and two in four games in the ACL. Their two goals in the ACL have both come from midfielders in Kim Jae-Sung and Hwang Jin-sung and their international strikers, Denilson, Brasilia and Stevica Ristic have not been in great form.
The Mariners are still without a win in 2009 and have called on Matthew Lewis and Nathan Sherlock from the National Youth League squad, with Adrian Caceres out injured and Nigel Boogaard and Matthew Osman suspended, while Nik Mrdja has remained at home.
This match will be played in the afternoon, which may suit the Mariners given it is expected to be warm in Pohang, similar conditions to what they get on the Central Coast. It's now up to the players to determine their future in this tournament.