Preview: Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma v Central Coast Mariners

The Mariners playing group could be forgiven for wanting to jump straight into their Mad Monday celebrations following their heartbreaking loss on penalties to Perth Glory.

Date: Wednesday 18 April, 2012 Kick-off: 8.30pm AEST, 7.30pm local Venue: Tancheon Sports Complex, Seongnam

Head-to-head Played: 1 Wins: Seongnam 0, Central Coast 0, Draw: 1

Previous encounter Central Coast 1, Seongnam 1, 3 April 2012

History: Earlier this month, Central Coast and Seongnam did battle for the first time ever at Bluetongue Stadium and it ended up all square.

Adam Kwasnik opened the scoring five minutes after the interval before the man named after two world-renowned clubs, Everton Santos, restored parity seven minutes later.

The action continued shortly after when Josh Rose was sent off for a clumsy challenge, giving the 2010 AFC Champions League winners the perfect opportunity to take the lead - but Heverton Alves crashed his spot kick into the crossbar, and the Mariners were able to escape with a share of the spoils.

Form: Past five matches: Seongnam: LDLWW Central Coast: WLDLL

Summary of form:

Seongnam have made a shaky start to the new K-League season, with last year's Korean FA Cup winners sitting eleventh on the table after eight matches. In Group G of the ACL they're also misfiring - three games in and they only have three points to show for themselves after draws on every match day so far. However, their past two results have shown improvement - on Wednesday they beat Robert Cornthwaite's side Chunnam Dragons, while three days later they were 1-0 victors at Daejon Citizen.

After a season of dominance for Central Coast, the Gosford side has once again fluffed their lines when it matters - in the finals series.

Winless in their last four matches across all competitions, Graham Arnold's side were soundly beaten by Brisbane Roar in the two-legged Grand Final Qualifier and then failed to put Perth Glory to the sword, despite 120 minutes of non-stop pressure at Bluetongue.

The question now is, are they able to pick themselves up after that disappointment and make something of their continental campaign? To do so they'll have to move quickly, because after three draws and just two goals to their name in three ACL matches, it's not yet clear if they're up to it.

Match Committee:

If there is a positive about missing the grand final for the Mariners, it's that they'll be able to now focus all their attention and energy on the AFC Champions League - which means no more nursing players through what was a very tough schedule.

With few injury problems, one would assume Mustafa Amini would be set for a significant run out against Seongnam - who are also close to full fitness - given he was left out of the squad for Central Coast's preliminary final against Perth.

Danger men:

Michael McGlinchey - Arguably one of Central Coast's best-performed players this season with eight assists to his name, it was a shame to see the diminutive Kiwi miss the penalty that ultimately saw his side bundled out of the finals race. Shootouts are lotteries and he didn't deserve the heartache and headlines that came with that moment of madness. But the 25-year-old former Celtic man is made of sterner stuff, and no doubt will rebound from that.

Everton Santos - There's a reason why this livewire was previously on the books of Brazilian giants Corinthians and Fluminese, as well as noveau-riche French club Paris Saint-Germain. The 25-year-old has loads of talent and a bag full of tricks, and when deployed up front with countryman Heverton - with whom he seems to have a near-telepathic understanding, he shows them off. His pace could be a problem for the Mariners' ageing but stoic defence.

At the end of the day…

The Mariners playing group could be forgiven for wanting to jump straight into their Mad Monday celebrations following their heartbreaking loss on penalties to Perth Glory - but they've got an AFC Champions League campaign to focus on now, so that'll have to wait.

Graham Arnold and his men have gone on record as saying this competition is more important than the Hyundai A-League finals series, so it will be interesting to see if they can back up those words with the requisite effort that would be expected from that.

Indeed, this match will be won and lost between the ears for Central Coast. They can beat Seongnam - that much was clear after a 10-man Mariners side secured a 1-1 draw when the Korean side visited Gosford a couple of weeks ago, but add in the travel factor and the regret left over from their inability to confirm that they really are Australia's best team, and it's not so clear cut. With all that said, and with Seongnam themselves on the up, the best that can be hoped for here is another deadlock.