The Mariners are yet to win away from home in the Champions League.
The AFC Champions League probably couldn’t have come at a worse time for Central Coast . Graham Arnold’s team has suffered from having a congested schedule towards the back end of the home and away season, and have now lost three out of four in the A-League following a surprise 2-0 defeat at the hands of arch rival Sydney FC at the weekend. That loss means the Mariners have lost two straight for the first time since Arnold took over the reins in Gosford.
It’s not about to get any easier, either. On Wednesday night the Mariners face Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol in the group stage of the Asian club tournament. Kashiwa is in the competition after winning the Emporer’s Cup last season, and that was no fluke. The side from the northern fringe of Tokyo won the 2011 J-League title the year after it was promoted from the second division of Japan football. Much of that success can be put down to the dominance of Brazilian midfielder Leandro Domingues, who was named J-League player of the year in Kashiwa’s title-winning season.
Reysol won its open match of the tournament 1-0 over Chinese Super League outfit Guizhou Renhe a fortnight back. They reached the final 16 of the competition last season before falling 3-2 to eventual champion Ulsan Hyundai.
The Mariners should really have a win under their belt in the Champions League, too, but Nick Montgomery’s missed penalty in the scoreless draw with Suwon Bluewings at Bluetongue Stadium on the opening matchday could come back to haunt them later in the tournament. Central Coast is still looking to break its duck on the road in this competition. The New South Wales side has drawn two and lost four of its six matches away from home, and it has gone down in both matches played in Japan. The Mariners failed to score in all three away fixtures last season.
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