Arnie’s Champions arrive in Korea


2012/13 Hyundai A-League Grand Final winners Central Coast Mariners have arrived safely in Korea Republic ahead of their AFC Champions League Matchday 5 meeting with Suwon Bluewings on Tuesday.

2012/13 Hyundai A-League Grand Final winners Central Coast Mariners have arrived safely in Korea Republic ahead of their AFC Champions League Matchday 5 meeting with Suwon Bluewings on Tuesday.

In great spirits following their Hyundai A-League Championship triumph over Western Sydney Wanderers yesterday, Graham Arnold-s men arrived at the team hotel just 21 hours before their next test in Asia-s premier club competition.

The freshly crowned top dogs of A-League football will hold a light session in Suwon on Tuesday morning in a bid to shake out any cobwebs before the important Group H game against Seo Jung-won-s side.

While immensely proud of his team-s Hyundai A-League Championship success, Central Coast Head Coach Graham Arnold said the focus for the next day is on performing admirably in Asia.

“We have a great determination to reach the second round of the 2013 AFC Champions League,” Arnold said. “However, we have a very difficult schedule for this game, and a massive challenge ahead of us. But it is a challenge we accept and one that we have to get on with. We will try and produce a very strong performance.”

The Mariners currently sit third on goal difference to China-s Guizhou Renhe in Group H of the continent-s top club competition. J-League outfit Kashiwa Reysol top the group while Suwon sit last, however are only a point adrift of both Central Coast and Guizhou.

While a point or better at the Stadium affectionately known as the ‘Big Bird- would enhance the yellow and navy-s hopes of advancing to the knockout stage of the tournament, at the very least the Club-s Matchday 6 meeting with Kashiwa Reysol in Gosford next week is guaranteed to be a live rubber.

“Our aim is to try and get at least a point from Suwon. We will then need to win our home game against Kashiwa Reysol next week,” Arnold said.

“Hopefully by Matchday 6 Kashiwa Reysol will have already qualified. It is then important that we win our home game and the result of the other group game between Suwon Bluewings and Guizhou Renhe falls favourably for us.”

Suwon are hosting Australian opponents in the AFC Champions League for only the second time following their 3-1 win over Sydney FC in the 2011 Group Stage.

While the match against the Sky Blues ended favourably for the Bluewings, perhaps worryingly for Jung-won is the fact his team have not tasted triumph in the AFC Champions League at the Suwon World Cup Stadium in their last four attempts.

Moreover, Bluewings captain Kim Do-heon has been sidelined for six months with a knee injury, while midfielder Cho Dong-geon is out until June with a collarbone injury. Midfielder Oh Jang-eun is also suspended for the game after receiving his second yellow card of the group stage against Kashiwa in Japan.

Despite the loss of some key players in the Bluewings ranks, Arnold expects the high-flying K-League Classic outfit to be ready for the game.

“It was clear to me on Matchday 1 that Suwon Bluewings are a very strong team,” he said. “At the moment they are performing well in K-League Classic. They are a very good side and they-ve got some very good foreign players.”

“While they haven-t won a game so far in the Champions League, in every match they have played they could have won. We will need to be on our game.”

Central Coast Mariners will be without captain John Hutchinson and defender Brent Griffiths for the game against Suwon. Both players are out due to suspension.

Championship winning midfielder Oliver Bozanic said the key to claiming success in Suwon was to stick to the team-s famed structure and discipline.

“Suwon Bluewings do have some important players to watch but more importantly for us we need to follow our game plan and structure,” Bozanic said.

“If we do this then we will give ourselves the best opportunity possible to achieve a positive result from the game.”

Central Coast Mariners have travelled with 18 players for the game against Suwon Bluewings.

Central Coast Mariners Squad in Suwon: 1. Mathew Ryan (Gk), 2. Daniel McBreen, 3. Joshua Rose, 4. Pedj Bojic, 5. Zachary Anderson, 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 8. Adriano Pellegrino, 9. Bernie Ibini, 11. Oliver Bozanic, 14. Michael McGlinchey, 15. Brad McDonald, 16. Trent Sainsbury, 17. Anthony Caceres, 18. Nick Montgomery, 19. Mitchell Duke, 20. Justin Pasfield, 21. Mile Sterjovski, 29. Nick Fitzgerald

Suwon Bluewings (KOR) vs. Central Coast Mariners (AUS) – 2013 AFC Champions League Matchday 5
Tuesday 23 April, 2013
Suwon World Cup Stadium, Suwon, Korea Republic
Kick-off: 7:30pm (local); 8:30pm (AEST)
Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter! The official hash tag for the game is #SBvCCM
Television: Live on Fox Sports Australia