Alou Kuol writes Mariners history with AFC Cup Final winner

Central Coast Mariners made history with a 1-0 win over Al-Ahed to be crowned AFC Cup Champions.

Mark Jackson’s side become just the second Australian team in history to lift a continental trophy, picking up their second trophy in less than a week.

Alou Kuol wrote his name into Mariners legend with an 83rd minute winner, squeezing the ball through the legs of Mostafa Matar.

Jackson once again used his substitutions to perfect effect, with Ronald Barcellos, off the bench at half time, setting up Kuol, a 60th minute substitute. That’s six goal contributions from Mariners substitutes in our last four games.

A memorable AFC Cup run, our first ever time in this competition, that has seen us travel over 100,000km, 13 games, ends with a match and a trophy that will never be forgotten. The first ever Australian winners and the final ever winners of the AFC Cup.

First half

A cagey first half saw Ryan Edmondson have the Mariners’ best chance, unable to convert from Josh Nisbet’s cutback, whilst Danny Vukovic was forced into an excellent save down to his left to deny Lee Erwin’s header.

Erwin was the focal point for the Lebanese Champions, the target of long-balls from the goalkeeper and centre backs, with Al-Ahed’s main aim in attacking areas being to get the ball wide and deliver crosses.

It was from a cross on 25 minutes, that Al-Ahed came closest to opening the scoring in the first half, a delivery from the left found Erwin who connected well with a header but Vukovic got down brilliantly to save.

2nd half

Barcellos was introduced at half time and looked lively straight away, the Brazilian linked up with Nisbet on 50 minutes before shooting, but it was blocked from a corner.

On 60 minutes, Matar was able to save comfortably from Edmondson, the Mariners were getting closer but would be made to wait.

There was a big chance for the Mariners on 80 minutes, Barcellos unlocked the Al-Ahed defence with a brilliant ball through to Storm Roux, he cut back for Nisbet who saw his shot blocked, the ball ricocheted to Barcellos but he was also thwarted by some brave Al-Ahed defending.

The moment came for the Mariners on 84 minutes, Barcellos sliding in Kuol who had it all to do from a tight angle but he squeezed it through the legs of Matar, a goal that will be iconic to Mariners fans for years to come.

The Mariners saw out the clean sheet to seal a huge, historic win. Throughout the 90 minutes, Dan Hall and Brian Kaltak were both at their very best to block anything Al-Ahed forced into the box, no more so in added time when Erwin got a sight of goal but Kaltak threw his body in the way as he so often does.


Our legendary skipper Danny Vukovic led the celebrations, lifting silverware for the second time in four days.

A breathless Vuka spoke to @AFCCup amid the post-game celebrations:

“So happy to win the AFC Cup.” Vuka said.

“A big thank you to our opponents Al-Ahed, they were amazing. Tough conditions but we got the job done.”

“And a big thank you to our supporters, they travelled all the way from Australia to support us so a big shout out to our supporters.”

The end of competition awards ceremony also saw the Mariners win the Fair Play award. Marco Tulio was announced as the Golden Boot winner after his eight Group Stage goals were enough.

Mikael Doka also received the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player award after a stellar campaign. Doka scored more knockout stage goals than any other player in the competition, whilst also claiming two assists.

Back to Australia for a treble push…

For one final time this season, the Mariners now return to Australia from Asia, for a huge final push at the end of this marathon of a season.

Jackson and the team have already made history this season, the first continental trophy in the club’s history and the first time we have won two trophies in a season, never mind within four days of each other…

But still this season could still get even better… A two-legged semi-final clash with Sydney FC is all that’s between us and a consecutive Grand Final in which we would have a shot of retaining the A-League Championship and sealing a historic treble.