IT is unlikely that more than a handful of Mariners fans will be overly familiar with the bulk of the Nagoya Grampus squad when the ‘killer whales’ emerge from the tunnel at Central Coast Stadium on Wednesday evening.
IT is unlikely that more than a handful of Mariners fans will be overly familiar with the bulk of the Nagoya Grampus squad when the ‘killer whales- emerge from the tunnel at Central Coast Stadium on Wednesday evening.
But Central Coast Mariners boss, Graham Arnold, believes the supporters that make the effort to take their seat at Gosford-s idyllic bayside arena for the 7:30pm kick-off will be treated to a feast of some of Asia-s finest footballers.
No less than four players currently contracted to Grampus represented their nation at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. With Australian star Joshua Kennedy playing for Arnold and Pim Verbeek for the Qantas Socceroos, three Nagoya standouts made the cut to represent the Blue Samurai in the world-s showpiece football tournament.
Goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki (35), defender Markus Tulio Tanaka (30), and attacking weapon Keiji Tamada (31) were part of the Japanese team that finished second in a tricky Group E with two wins from three matches. Defeating Denmark and Cameroon in the Group Stage and only losing to Paraguay on penalties in the round of 16, the quality of the Japan-s squad at the 2010 FIFA World Cup cannot be underestimated.
“They-re sprinkled with Japanese international players,” Arnold said on Monday.
“Tulio (Tanaka) the central defender is a Japanese international who played at the last World Cup - a superb player - Tamada, Narazaki, they-re players who may not be familiar to people on the Central Coast but I can promise them (the fans) that if they come and watch the game on Wednesday night they will see hugely talented footballers.”
Having analysed footage of Dragan Stojkovic-s team over past weeks, Arnold admitted that thwarting the J-League giant would be a tough test, even at the club-s Central Coast stronghold. Nevertheless, the internationally experienced and recognised tactician believes his team won-t play the match in awe of their illustrious opponents.
“It-s about another two levels up from the A-League,” Arnold said in reference to Japan-s domestic competition, the J-League.
“Even if we get a point against the number one seed in our group in Nagoya, it-s good. Of course you-ve got to win games eventually but it-s one game at a time and make no mistake we-ll be going out to win the game at home.”
“Nagoya come with a lot of pedigree, a top club in Japan, one of the superstar clubs in the J-League, and it will be a big test for us but it-s one that we are all looking forward to.”
Arnold also took time to share with fans some of the basic tactics he will be drumming into his players over the next 48 hours before AFC Champions League Matchday 2.
“They-re very Brisbane-like with a lot of rotation, mobility and a lot of speed,” he said. “For the midfield and front men I want to show them how they play out.”
“(And) we-ve got to focus on stopping the delivery (to Josh Kennedy). Josh is fantastic in the air and if we can stop the delivery into the penalty box then that-s a big job done and it nullifies what Josh can do,” he concluded.
AFC Champions League Matchday 2 - Central Coast Mariners vs. Nagoya Grampus Wednesday 21 March - Central Coast Stadium Kick-off: 7:30pm | Gates: 6:30pm Tickets: Please click here to purchase tickets to the match. Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter. The official match hash-tag is #ACLccmng