CENTRAL Coast Mariners touched down in Guangzhou, China early on Sunday evening excited by the opportunity to challenge Marcello Lippi’s Evergrande outfit for a place in the last eight of the 2013 AFC Champions League.
CENTRAL Coast Mariners touched down in Guangzhou, China early on Sunday evening excited by the opportunity to challenge Marcello Lippi-s Evergrande outfit for a place in the last eight of the 2013 AFC Champions League.
On arrival at Guangzhou International Airport, Mariners boss Graham Arnold said that there are a number of key aspects that must unite in his side-s effort to overturn Evergrande-s advantage for a place in the quarterfinals of Asia-s premier club competition.
Notably, Arnold believes his players must first and foremost trust in their capacity to defeat Guangzhou at the Tianhe Stadium in front of an expected 40,000 vociferous, red-clad fans on Wednesday.
Then, his men must play the game using all of the tactical nous they-ve acquired over the last two years criss-crossing the sparse Asian continent representing the A-League in the annual tournament.
Finally, Arnold believes his outfit cannot afford to concede an early goal to the talented Guangzhou team.
“There-s no hiding the fact that it-s going to be tough, but they are at home and they-ve got all the pressure on them - they-re expected to win the AFC Champions League,” Arnold said.
“We-ve got to go out and put in our best performance. We-re 90 minutes away from reaching the last eight in Asia and that-s the way we-ve got to look at it.”
“But you can-t win a game in the first half, usually you can only lose it. We-ve got to play with our brains, use common sense and do our jobs.”
“It-s important we don-t concede early. If we concede in the first half it will pretty much be game over, as then we-ll have to get three. We need to go out there and make sure we are defensively strong.”
Always the consummate professional, Arnold has watched and re-watched the DVD of Wednesday-s first-leg fixture between the Mariners and Guangzhou played in Gosford.
The ‘Southern China Tigers- won the fixture on the Central Coast 2-1, but the 2013 A-League Champions more than held their own against the wealthiest Club in Asia.
With three full days of preparation in Guangzhou before the decisive second-leg, Arnold said his team will be ready to aim up against Lippi-s luminaries.
“I-ve watched the DVD a couple of times and if we play the way we did in Gosford and we take our chances then everything is possible,” he said.
“I am looking forward to the game. We-re fit and we-ve only got one competition to focus on. They had to play us last Wednesday then fly back and play on Saturday night. We-re fit and fresh and we-ll give it our best shot.”
“Having arrived Sunday, we-ll have two good training sessions instead just one famil session, so we-ve got the opportunity for the players to recover a little bit, relax a bit and get ready for the game.”
Guangzhou Evergrande continued their dominance in the Chinese Super League on Saturday, winning 4-1 at home to Liaoning Whowin.
Lippi took the opportunity to rest some of his key players, with South American superstars Lucas Barrios and Dario Conca starting from the bench, and skipper Zheng Zhi, striker Gao Lin and attacker Muriqui all receiving early baths.
Nevertheless, substitute Barrios managed a second half brace before leaving the field with an apparent injury, while Brazilian Elkeson (not included in Guangzhou Evergrande-s 2013 AFC Champions League squad) and powerful Chinese international defender Zhang Linpeng scored the opening two goals of the game.
Central Coast Mariners- 2013 AFC Champions League Round of 16 second-leg clash with Guangzhou Evergrande will be shown live and exclusive on Fox Sports 3 & 3HD on Wednesday 22 May, 2013 from 10:00pm (AEST).
Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN) vs. Central Coast Mariners (AUS) - AFC Champions League Round of 16 (Second-Leg) Wednesday 22 May, 2013 Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou Kick-off: 8:00pm (local); 10:00pm (AEST) Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter! The official hashtag for the clash is #GEvCCM Television: Live and exclusive on Fox Sports 3 & 3HD