Clean sheet first step for desperate Mariners

The Central Coast Mariners have safely arrived in the Korea Republic where they will lay their AFC Champions League campaign on the line against Korean FA Cup holders Pohang Steelers on Tuesday afternoon.

The Central Coast Mariners have safely arrived in the Korea Republic where they will lay their AFC Champions League campaign on the line against Korean FA Cup holders Pohang Steelers on Tuesday afternoon.

Key to the Mariners- chances of recording a positive result in Korea-s quaint east coast will be custodian Danny Vukovic - with the Mariners requiring a win, no less, to keep their hopes of qualification for the Round of 16 alive.

To that end, the form of Vukovic between the posts will be elementary to the Mariners- chances of recording their first clean sheet in three matches - their most recent was against Pohang on Match Day 1 of the current campaign - while hoping for a match winner at the other end of the pitch.

"We-re definitely looking forward to it a lot, we haven-t won a game yet this season - we-re trying to rectify that and hopefully we can do it on Tuesday afternoon," said Vukovic.

"They-re a great side, as are all the teams in our group, we were probably unlucky not to take away three points at home when we last met.

"Hopefully we take our chances on Tuesday and we nullify them to no goals."

The Mariners- first choice glove man is fast approaching his 100th competitive appearance in yellow and navy, with Tuesday-s challenge in the Korea Republic set to be his 95th for the Mariners.

Vukovic is no stranger to the Korea Republic, having represented his country in Busan - two hours south of the venue for Tuesday-s game - at Qantas Young Socceroos (Under 20-s) level against Colombia in a fixture that Australia lost 2-0 in May 2005.

Later that tournament, Vukovic watched from the sidelines as Australia defeated the host nation 1-0, with Pohang Steelers squad members and opponents on Tuesday Shin Hyung-Min and Park Hee-Chul lining up for the Korea Republic on that occasion.

While the Steelers have been solid in the AFC Champions League, their record of one win and three draws, coupled with their domestic record of one win, one loss and an incredible five draws from their opening seven outings would suggest that the hosts are most certainly beatable.

"The AFC Champions League has been great for us and a great experience, playing at this level is a lot different to playing at the Hyundai A-League level," said Vukovic.

"It-s a different type of football and chances are limited and pretty soon you learn that you need to take those limited chances.

"If you don-t take those chances you won-t win games, so hopefully we can do that on Tuesday night."

The Mariners- inaugural AFC Champions League campaign will continue at Korea-s Steelyard on Tuesday, 5 May, when the yellow and navy will face K-League heavyweights Pohang Steelers. Kick off is at 2pm AEST.

The Mariners will return to their Central Coast Stadium home for Match Day 6 of the AFC Champions League to face the challenge of Chinese Super League heavyweights Tianjin Teda on Tuesday, 19 May. Kick off is at 8pm.

Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.