Mariners steeled for historic Asian debut

The Central Coast Mariners will commence their historic first voyage into Asia with a blockbuster meeting against Korean FA Cup winners Pohang Steelers at Bluetongue Stadium on Wednesday, 11 March.

The Central Coast Mariners will commence their historic first voyage into Asia with a blockbuster meeting against Korean FA Cup winners Pohang Steelers at Bluetongue Stadium on Wednesday, 11 March.

The Mariners- will open their AFC Champions League 2009 campaign against the two-time Asian champions before traveling to the continent for the first time seven days later to face Chinese Super League heavyweights Tianjin Teda at their 37,450 capacity arena on the Chinese north coast.

April will see the Mariners host and be hosted by powerhouse Japanese challengers and arguable group favourites Kawasaki Frontale, with Kawasaki bringing their all-star squad to Bluetongue Stadium on Wednesday, 8 April before hosting the yellow and navy at the Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium on Tuesday, 21 April.

In May, the Mariners will travel to Pohang-s Steelyard Stadium before concluding their group stage campaign with a likely do or die showdown with Tianjin Teda at Bluetongue Stadium on Tuesday, 19 May.

"With confirmation of the fixtures list for our debut AFC Champions League campaign, we-re now truly counting down the days before what will be a history making evening at Bluetongue Stadium on Wednesday, 11 March," said Mariners Executive Chairman Lyall Gorman.

"Of course we-re delighted to be taking part in this very prestigious competition, but it-s not been until now that we-ve been able to see the challenge that lies ahead of us in black and white and it-s incredibly exciting to think that we-re just two months away from our first appearance in the AFC Champions League."

Membership and ticketing information regarding the Mariners- AFC Champions League campaign will be released in the coming weeks.

Further exciting initiatives regarding the Mariners- maiden journey into Asia will also be unveiled in the coming weeks, including the yellow and navy-s home and away playing strip for the campaign, official playing roster and trial match schedule.

"This is truly a most exciting time for everyone associated with the Mariners," said Gorman.

"For the time being, we have our Hyundai A-League Premiership defence to focus on, but our Members and supporters can be assured that upon learning of this draw, our planning for the AFC Champions League has simply been drawn into sharper focus as our preparation to date has been meticulous and thorough.

"We can now take into account issues that will arise in regards to travel, time zones and climate and ensure that we leave no stone unturned in making our inaugural AFC Champions League tilt a successful one on and off the pitch."

Central Coast Mariners AFC Champions League 2009 Fixture List

Central Coast Mariners vs. Pohang Steelers Bluetongue Stadium Wednesday, 11 March

Tianjin Teda vs. Central Coast Mariners Tianjin Teda Stadium Wednesday, 18 March

Central Coast Mariners vs. Kawasaki Frontale Bluetongue Stadium Wednesday, 8 April

Kawasaki Frontale vs. Central Coast Mariners Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium Tuesday, 21 April

Pohang Steelers vs. Central Coast Mariners Steelyard Tuesday, 5 May

Central Coast Mariners vs. Tianjin Teda Bluetongue Stadium Tuesday, 19 May

The Mariners are back at Bluetongue Stadium on Saturday, 10 January when they host the Queensland Roar in Round 19 of the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season. Kick off is at 7pm.

Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website - www.ticketek.com.au, or via phone on 132 849.