Mariners handed tough AFC Champions League task

The draw for the 2014 AFC Champions League was made at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday afternoon, with Central Coast Mariners pooled in a tough Group F alongside reigning J.League Champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Korea Republic heavyweights FC Seoul, and the yet to be determined 3.1 East Asian Playoff Winner.

The draw for the 2014 AFC Champions League was made at AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday afternoon, with Central Coast Mariners pooled in a tough Group F alongside reigning J.League Champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Korea Republic heavyweights FC Seoul, and the yet to be determined 3.1 East Asian Playoff Winner.

The draw held in the Malaysian capital delivered a number of interesting match-ups for the Mariners next AFC Champions League campaign, with the Club set to challenge Graham Arnold-s former Club Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the Group Stage.

‘Sanfre- recently won the J.League for the second consecutive season this year, and will undoubtedly be eager to transfer their strong domestic performances into outstanding continental form in 2014.

FC Seoul are one of the dominant outfits in K-League Classic, and this season came fourth in Korea Republic-s top flight. Though Choi Yong-Soo-s men may have liked a higher finish in the K-League, they did manage to make it all the way through to the Final of the 2013 AFC Champions League.

The men from the Seoul World Cup Stadium lost out to China-s Guangzhou Evergrande on away goals after drawing the two-legged Final of Asia-s top club competition 3-3. Incidentally, Guangzhou Evergrande also eliminated Central Coast Mariners from the 2013 version of the prestigious tournament.

The final team to complete Group F will be known on Saturday 15 February when the East Asian Qualifying Playoffs Winners are realised. Tampines Rovers (Singapore), South China (Hong Kong), Chonburi (Thailand), and Beijing Guoan (China) are in the running to join the Mariners, Sanfrecce and Seoul in the section.

Central Coast Mariners boss Phil Moss provided his reaction to the draw from Australia as he continues to prepare his side for their Hyundai A-League round 10 clash with Adelaide United in South Australia this Saturday.

“We are extremely proud to be participating in the 2014 AFC Champions League,” Moss said. “Today we-ve been pooled in a very tough group, and arguably the hardest group the Club has had in its four participations in the competition.”

“But we love a challenge and of course we-ll be aiming to reach the knockout phase of the competition. You don-t expect an easy draw in the AFC Champions League, which is why it is such a fantastic tournament.”

“We-ll be leaving no stone unturned in our preparations for the 2014 AFC Champions League, and as always will be aiming to represent Australia with great pride in Asia,” he concluded.

Central Coast Mariners competed in the 2009, 2012, and 2013 versions of the AFC Champions League.

This year the Club advanced to the last 16 of the prestigious tournament for the first time in its history, and were only eliminated by the eventual tournament Champions Guangzhou Evergrande.

Western Sydney Wanderers (direct to group stage) and Melbourne Victory (playoff stage) will also represent Australia and the Hyundai A-League in the 2014 AFC Champions League.

2014 AFC Champions League Group F Sanfrecce Hiroshima (Japan) Central Coast Mariners (Australia) FC Seoul (Korea Republic) 3.1 East Asian Playoff Winner - Tampines Rovers (Singapore), South China (Hong Kong), Chonburi (Thailand), or Beijing Guoan (China)