Central Coast Mariners have arrived safely – albeit somewhat weary – in Tianjin, China for their AFC Champions League Matchday 1 meeting with Tianjin Teda FC on Wednesday.
Central Coast Mariners have arrived safely - albeit somewhat weary - in Tianjin, China for their AFC Champions League Matchday 1 meeting with Tianjin Teda FC on Wednesday.
Nearly 24 hours after the team departed Sydney having made the trip down the F3 immediately after Saturday-s dramatic 1-all draw with Sydney FC in the Hyundai A-League, the Mariners pulled up at their hotel in China.
The brisk, minus three degree conditions felt by the players and staff upon disembarkation at Beijing International Airport and subsequent two hour bus ride to Tianjin, ensured everyone in the squad was reminded of just how big a challenge playing in Asia-s premier club competition is for Australian teams.
“We started our trip to Tianjin at 4:30am on Sunday morning and if you consider the time difference we-ve been on the move for nearly 24 hours,” Central Coast Mariners Head Coach, Graham Arnold, said.
“Add in the fact we drove straight to Sydney after our match on Saturday, as well as the temperature, and you begin to realise just how big an effort these matches are.”
“But that-s international football … it-s a challenge. We are taking it one game at a time and our full focus is now on Wednesday-s AFC Champions League match with Tianjin - a game we will be endeavouring to win.”
“We (the coaching staff) watched some footage of Tianjin Teda on the first plane, so we have a bit better understanding of who we-re up against now, and the key threats we need to nullify.”
Showing the importance of the game and the AFC Champions League to football fans in China, the Mariners were met at their hotel at midnight local time (3am AEDT) by some eager media keen to access footage of the team-s arrival.
Central Coast skipper Alex Wilkinson (pictured) spoke with a local television and told the media he felt Chinese football was getting stronger when asked what he thought of the Chinese Super League.
“You see a lot of good foreign players coming to China now so the league is getting better,” he said. “We understand that Tianjin-s team has changed quite substantially since last season with many new foreign players.”
After some much needed sleep, Arnold will lead his team on their first training session at Tianjin Teda Football Stadium at approximately 5pm local time (8pm AEDT) this afternoon.
The Mariners- clash with Tianjin Teda will be shown live on Fox Sports 3 from 10:55pm AEDT on Wednesday 7 March.
Central Coast Mariners Squad - AFC Champions League Matchday 1 1. Mathew RYAN (Gk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Trent MCCLENAHAN, 9. Bernie IBINI, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 12. Troy HEARFIELD, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 17. Tomas ROGIC, 18. Alex WILKINSON, 19. John SUTTON, 20. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 21. Sam GALLAGHER, 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK