Rizzo joins Mariners

Central Coast has moved quickly to secure the services of former Perth midfielder Nick Rizzo for its AFC Champions League squad.

Central Coast has moved quickly to secure the services of former Perth midfielder Nick Rizzo for its AFC Champions League squad.

After a long stint in Europe with a number of different clubs including Liverpool and Crystal Palace, Rizzo returned to Australia in 2007 and played 26 matches in two seasons with the Glory, before being cut by the club two weeks ago.

The 29-year-old will link with his new team-mates in the coming weeks to press his claims for a starting berth in the Mariners' first ever Asian Champions League fixture against Korean FA Cup winners Pohang Steelers at Bluetongue Stadium on March 11.

"I'm firstly delighted to have been given the chance by the Mariners to contribute to what is an incredibly exciting tournament for any professional to be involved in and one that presents the club with a unique set of challenges," he said.

"The Mariners have consistently been among the top teams in Australia and I have every confidence that the squad they have assembled for the AFC Champions League 2009 is one that is capable of emulating their domestic success in Asia."

"I look forward to meeting with my new team-mates in the coming weeks and working towards an AFC Champions League campaign that we as a playing group and the whole of the Central Coast can be proud of."

With Rizzo's capture, the Mariners' Champions League squad now totals 23, with a further seven signings able to be made by the Mariners by Wednesday's registration deadline.

"Nick's signing further adds to our attacking depth and I'm certain that our whole squad will benefit from Nick's tremendous level of experience gained from his many years playing at a very high level for club and country," Mariners Executive Chairman Lyall Gorman said.

"Though Nick's game time at Perth was limited, we saw enough evidence of his quality to suggest that he will become a valuable contributor to our AFC Champions League campaign, where Adelaide United have shown recently that squad depth is one of the cornerstones of a successful campaign."

"To that end, with Nick alongside the likes of Adrian Caceres, Ahmad Elrich, Adam Kwasnik and others, our attacking midfield stocks are impressive and, in our eyes, ample to give ourselves the best chance of success in Asia."

Central Coast also rewarded three of the standouts from the club's National Youth League campaign with Matthew Lews, Nathan Sherlock and Brady Smith all confirmed in the Champions League squad.

The Mariners face the Roar in the second leg of the Minor Semi-Final at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night needing to overcome a two-goal deficit to progress to the Preliminary Final.