Get to know our 2012 AFC Champions League Matchday 2 rivals, Japan's Nagoya Grampus.
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
Central Coast Mariners welcome J-League giant Nagoya Grampus to Central Coast Stadium this Wednesday, with one particularly familiar face set to provide a stern test to the Mariners- back-line.
Qantas Socceroo Joshua Kennedy will be well known to all Australian football fans, having featured for the National Team at both the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups.
And, having finished the last two Japanese domestic seasons as top scorer (in 2010 he finished level with Jubilo Iwata striker Ryoichi Maeda), the tall, talented player will be a handful for Alex Wilkinson and co.
But Nagoya Grampus are much more than one man, with Head Coach Dragan Stojkovic having assembled an extremely talented squad that is set to challenge for honours both at home and in continental club competition the campaign.
Let-s learn a little more about the men who will play their 2012 AFC Champions League home games at the 27,000 capacity Mizuho Athletic Stadium.
Nagoya Grampus - Fast Facts • Nagoya-s emblem, in the shape of a shield topped with a crown to represent a king, incorporates Nagoya-s symbol, the “killer whale.” Barbarian red represents wildness and fighting spirit, noble red indicates intelligence and affection, star orange characterises brightness and beauty in team spirit. This emblem was officially adopted in 1998. • Nagoya Grampus are taking part in the AFC Champions League for the third time in four years. They reached the semi-finals in 2009 but lost 2-0 to K-League rivals Suwon Bluewings in the round of 16 last year. • Nagoya-s squad is little changed from the one that played in last year-s tournament with key players like goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki, centre-back Markus Tulio Tanaka and Australian striker Josh Kennedy returning for another crack at the title. • Among the new arrivals at the club are Brazilian defender Daniel from Ventforet Kofu and ex-Vissel Kobe defender Yosuke Ishibitsu.
Coach: Dragan Stojkovic Born: 03 March 1965 (47) Nationality: Serbian After ending his playing career at Nagoya Grampus in 2001, Dragan Stojkovic returned to the club seven years later after serving as president of the Yugoslavia Football Association and Red Star Belgrade. Despite his lack of coaching experience, he led Grampus to third place in his debut season in 2008, an appearance in the AFC Champions League semi-finals the following year and their first J.League title in 2010.
How have Grampus fared so far this campaign? Nagoya Grampus earned a point in their opening match of the 2012 AFC Champions League, drawing 2-2 with another of the Mariners- Group G rivals, Seongnam Ilwha Chunma. In fact, Grampus had looked set for a home win in front of 6,686 fans until Seongnam-s Heverton restored parity to the match in the third minute of added time.
Domestically, Nagoya have played two matches in the J-League so far this campaign, for a record of one win and one loss. On the opening day of the season Joshua Kennedy-s penalty earned Dragan Stojkovic-s team a 1-0 home triumph over Shimizu S-Pulse, while on Saturday, the team lost 3-2 away to FC Tokyo. Kennedy scored again, while Kensuke Nagai nabbed his first of the term.
Nagoya left Tokyo bound for the Central Coast on Sunday and will arrive at their accommodation on the Coast at approximately midday on Monday.
Fans A healthy contingent of Nagoya support is expected to travel to Gosford for the match. We encourage Mariners fans to interact with the Grampus faithful, exchange stories and make friendships. Clad in red, Nagoya fans know how to make a racket, and will undoubtedly be vociferous in encouraging their team on Wednesday evening.
*Thanks to Nagoya Grampus & the AFC for providing some information.