Knockout stages begin as Phnom Penh visit Gosford in AFC Cup

Central Coast Mariners are in AFC Cup action on Tuesday evening, as they welcome Cambodian Premier League Champions Phnom Penh Crown FC to Industree Group Stadium.

Mark Jackson will be looking for a positive response from his team, after they fell to their first defeat since November this weekend against Sydney FC.

🏆 AFC Cup so far

The Mariners advanced through Group G with four wins, one draw and one loss, finishing a point ahead of Malaysian outfit Terengganu, who crashed out of the competition despite going unbeaten in the group (3 wins, 3 draws).

A 1-1 draw with Terengganu on Matchday five at Our Paradise, put pressure on the Mariners’ tricky trip to the Phillipines on Matchday 6, but Jackson’s side held their nerve and ran out 3-0 winners against Stallions Laguna to book their place in this Zonal Semi-Final.

Phnom Penh made it through the group stage the best second-placed team from the group stages, finishing behind Macarthur in Group F and gaining 12 points, but it was their +8 goal difference that saw them through ahead of Terengganu.

It could have been a much more comfortable passage for Phnom Penh too, as they fell to a shock defeat to previously winless Shan United, denying them top spot in the group above the Campbelltown club.

Before the final day slip up, Phnom Penh had cruised through their home group fixtures (4-0 vs Shan, 3-0 v Macarthur, 4-0 vs Cebu) and also defeated Cebu 3-0 away in their opening match.

Ultimately it was their away form that held them back, with that final day loss and also a 5-0 thumping at Campbelltown on their last trip to Australia.

🇰🇭 More about Phnom Penh

Tuesday’s opponents are the record winners of the Cambodian Premier League, with eight titles to their name.

They are currently second in the league as they defend their title, but lost a crucial match last time out against current leaders Svay Rieng, the first defeat in their last 12 league outings.

👀 Players to watch

That decisive goal difference was largely helped by the contributions of striker Shintaro Shimuzu. The 31-year-old is the top scorer in the competition so far with seven goals in the six group stage matches, including a hat-trick against Shan United, adding to his two in the qualifying rounds.

Shimizu is also the Cambodian Premier League’s second top scorer with 15 goals in 20 games, so clearly has an eye for goal and is someone the Mariners will have to mark closely.

Tickets are still available for Tuesday evening’s game, and don’t forget that Members go free!