Hutchinson proud of Asian impact

CENTRAL Coast Mariners captain John Hutchinson has praised his side for securing their position in the knockout stages of the 2013 AFC Champions League for the first time in Club history.

CENTRAL Coast Mariners captain John Hutchinson has praised his side for securing their position in the knockout stages of the 2013 AFC Champions League for the first time in Club history.

Graham Arnold-s men suffered a 3-0 defeat to Nelsinho Baptista-s J-League outfit Kashiwa Reysol in their final group match at Central Coast Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Despite the result, the yellow and navy progressed to the last 16 of Asia-s top club tournament following a 2-2 draw between Guizhou Renhe and Suwon Bluewings in the other Group H fixture in China.

“We are very happy to get through to the last 16,” Hutchinson said. “While we-re disappointed with the result against Kashiwa, we obviously did enough in the other games to get us out of the group stage. As a group of players and staff, we wanted to get through to the round of 16 and leave a legacy at the club.”

“To be the first Mariners team to do it, it-s a big achievement. The boys really deserve a lot of credit for what they-ve done. We-re a small club in Australia and a tiny speck in Asia, so for us to get out of the group stage is a massive achievement.”

The Mariners will face either China-s Guangzhou Evergrande or Korea Republic-s Jeonbuk Hyundai in the two-leg tie in Asia-s premier club competition later this month.

Hutchinson says he would love to take on former Central Coast skipper Alex Wilkinson but admits his team are aware that they will be facing off against one of Asia-s top teams.

“It would be great to come up against ‘Wilko- and see him back on the Coast. He-s a legend at the Mariners, and it would be fantastic. We obviously don-t have a choice on the team we will play; we are just looking forward to going up against a big team. I think Guangzhou is probably the biggest club in Asia and Jeonbuk isn-t too far behind them,” he said.

New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey paid tribute to his side and said his team will head into the next game full of confidence.

“We are just delighted to get into the last 16 of the ACL. It-s been a big week for us and we take a lot of positives from qualifying. We-ve showed a lot of character in winning the Grand Final and then travelling and getting the result in South Korea. We are definitely going to go into the game with a lot of confidence, anything can happen,” McGlinchey said.

The diminutive midfielder believes the yellow and navy will be well prepared for the encounter at Central Coast Stadium on May 15.

“We will definitely freshen up over the next two weeks. There has been talk of a game with the Socceroos at some stage. ‘Arnie- will keep us ticking over and we will remain match fit. We-ll be ready, and in good condition to play the next game,” he concluded.