Michael McGlinchey set up the Mariners' winner last week. Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au/Tony Feder/Getty Images
Central Coast breathed life in to its faltering AFC Champions League campaign with a 2-1 win over Guizhou Renhe in Gosford last Wednesday night. Less than a week later the two teams meet again as the Mariners try to consolidate their place in the top two of Group H in the AFC Champions League. They’ll have to do it without a number of topliners that have been left to prepare for Sunday’s A-League semi-final with Melbourne Victory.
Central Coast probably should have won last week’s match more convincingly, and may have done so if the referee hadn’t missed a blatant handball in the opening minutes. After taking the lead just after halftime through Pedj Bojic, the Mariners were unlucky to concede an own goal credited to ‘keeper Mat Ryan in the 72nd minute. Young defender Trent Sainsbury chose a good time to get on the scoresheet for Central Coast for the first time, though, as his winner ten minutes from time sealed victory.
Guizhou has hosted just one game in the tournament so far and that finished with Japanese side Kashiwa Reysol returning home with a 1-0 victory in the bag. They are clearly the best side in the group, though, and demonstrated as much with a thumping 6-2 win away from home over South Korean outfit Suwon Bluewings.
The Mariners are still yet to win in Asia after qualifying for the 2009, 2012 and 2013 tournaments. Graham Arnold’s side has drawn two and lost four on the continent, but both of those stalemates came against Chinese side Tianjin Teda, including a 0-0 result last season. With the Mariners not required for the first week of the A-League finals, the squad which has headed to China’s southwest should be fully rested.
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