Lippi, Guangzhou Evergrande Gosford bound

2013 A-League Champions the Central Coast Mariners will welcome back-to-back Chinese Super League winners and one of the wealthiest Clubs in Asia, Guangzhou Evergrande, to Gosford this month.

2013 A-League Champions the Central Coast Mariners will welcome back-to-back Chinese Super League winners and one of the wealthiest Clubs in Asia, Guangzhou Evergrande, to Gosford this month.

Heading into Matchday 6 of the 2013 AFC Champions League, the Marcello Lippi coached Evergrande knew a draw at home to Korea Republic-s Jeonbuk Hyundai would seal them top spot in Group F of Asia-s premier club competition.

At the end of 90 minutes at the Tianhe Stadium last night the two teams settled for a 0-0 stalemate, ensuring the ‘Southern China Tigers- will this morning be booking flights to Sydney for the Wednesday 15 May first-leg meeting with Graham Arnold-s Mariners.

Fans attending the clash between Central Coast and Guangzhou Evergrande in Gosford will be witness to the lion-hearted A-League winners up against one of the financial heavyweights of world football.

Indeed, Guangzhou Evergrande made headlines in July 2011 when they signed Argentine attacking midfield star Dario Conca from Brazilian side Fluminense on a three-and-a-half year deal for a fee of $10 million.

At the time, Conca was the third highest paid player in world football, netting $12.5 million per season to join Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) and Lionel Messi (Barcelona) as one of the best-paid players in the globe.

It took Evergrande only another year to smash their own Chinese Super League transfer record with the signing of Paraguayan striker Lucas Barrios from German outfit BVB Borussia Dortmund for €12 million. Reportedly, the former Colo-Colo player Barrios secures an annual salary of $9 million.

But undoubtedly Guangzhou-s biggest name does his work not on the field of play, but in their technical area.

Having coached Italy to their 2006 FIFA World Cup triumph in Germany, Lippi swapped Europe for China in 2012 and has already guided Evergrande to Chinese Super League and Chinese FA Cup success.

Along with his World Cup win, Lippi has five Scudetto-s (Seria A Championships), four Italian Super Cups, one UEFA Champions League, one European Supercup, and one Intercontinental Cup to his name. The majority of Lippi's success at Club level came with Italian heavyweights Juventus, where he coached Sydney FC marquee Alessandro Del Piero.

The Mariners- Arnold was an assistant to Guus Hiddink in 2006 when the Qantas Socceroos played Italy in the Round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup in Kaiserslautern. And, the Central Coast coach says he can-t wait to pit wits with the respected Evergrande manager again.

“Marcello Lippi is one of the world-s truly great football figures and it-s unquestionable he will be the most famous person ever to coach a team on the Central Coast,” Arnold said.

“But while we will show Marcello and Guangzhou all the respect they deserve, we will not fear them. We have a two week preparation heading into the game and our full focus will be on achieving a positive first-leg result to take to China.”

“Our Club will take enormous pride in hosting Lippi and the Evergrande team, and the match promises to be a great occasion for all Australian football fans,” he said.

Central Coast Mariners will play the second-leg of its 2013 AFC Champions League Round of 16 clash with Guangzhou Evergrande on Wednesday 22 May in China, with the aggregate winner advancing to the quarter-finals commencing in August.

The Club will launch tickets for the home game against Guangzhou Evergrande (kick-off time to be confirmed) early next week. This phase will include a priority window for Mariners Members before tickets go on sale to the general public.

Central Coast Mariners (AUS) vs. Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN) - 2013 AFC Champions League Round of 16 First-Leg Wednesday 15 May, 2013 Central Coast Stadium, Gosford Kick-off: 7:30pm Tickets: On sale Monday 6 May Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter. The official hash tag for the game is #CCMvGE