Mariners prepared for Japanese test

The Central Coast Mariners’ quest for a maiden AFC Champions League win will see them take on the might of Kawasaki Frontale at Central Coast Stadium tomorrow, where the challenge for the yellow and navy is one of Mount Fuji-like proportions.

The Central Coast Mariners- quest for a maiden AFC Champions League win will see them take on the might of Kawasaki Frontale at Central Coast Stadium tomorrow, where the challenge for the yellow and navy is one of Mount Fuji-like proportions.

Mount Fuji – Japan-s highest mountain, sits west of Kawasaki-s east-Toyko home and is symbolic of the test that will confront the Mariners at Central Coast Stadium tomorrow night, such is the depth and pedantry of the preparations that the J.League-s finest have brought with them to Australia.

Kawasaki-s traveling party, which includes a full-strength player contingent that downed fellow AFC Champions League challengers Nagoya Grampus at the weekend, numbers some 48 members – a figure that trumps the Mariners- modest by comparison 25 that made the trip to Tianjin.

Furthermore, all members of Kawasaki-s party will are staying in single rooms at their Terrigal hotel and the brief presence of inquisitive coach Takashi Sekizuka at the Mariners- final training session earlier today was the surest sign yet of Kawasaki-s intent for maximum points tomorrow night.

Unfazed, the Mariners know that with the underdog tag that they relish so much, they are more than capable of springing an upset over the Group H and perhaps competition favourites.

“I think that each game so far we-ve improved and if we can improve a little bit on the Tianjin game, we-ll do alright tomorrow,” said Mariners Football Manager Lawrie McKinna.

“When we-re on our game we-re as good as any team in the competition and I think we-ve proved that in the first two games and we-ll be looking to build on that as the competition goes on.

“We-re confident in our own ability to do well.”

The Mariners- latest journey into the unknown will see them challenged by Japanese opposition for the first time in their five-year history.

The Kawasaki Frontale player that will perhaps be most recognisable to Australian audiences is midfielder Kengo Nakamura, who started against the Qantas Socceroos in the 2007 AFC Asian Cup quarter final in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Nakamura was substituted in the second half of extra time in a match that was won 5-4 on penalties by the Japanese, who triumphed over an Australian side that featured former Mariners stars John Aloisi and Michael Beauchamp.

Kawasaki-s DPR Korea national team representative and ace striker Chong Tese is on target to join Kawasaki-s exclusive band of players to have played at a FIFA World Cup, with DPR Korea-s chances of a securing an historic second ever FIFA World Cup berth looking likely with three rounds to complete in their AFC Fourth Round – Group B qualifying group.

In addition, Brazilian trio Juninho, Vitor Junior and Renatinho will add colour to an already impressive line up that qualified for their second AFC Champions League tilt by virtue of their second placing in last season-s J.League.

“They-ve got two Brazilians up front, one plays in behind and they-re very lively,” said McKinna.

“Their front two and middle three or four attack in numbers, they-re very mobile and they-re all out attack – we can get a lot of joy when their play breaks down and hopefully capitalise on that.

“They-re a very good passing team but compared to our Chinese and Korean opponents they-re quite small and physically not as big, we-ll be wanting to play football and knock the ball about, but we-ve definitely got a physical presence over them.”

Central Coast Mariners Squad

2. Andre Gumprecht, 3. Shane Huke, 5. Bradley Porter, 7. John Hutchinson, 8. Dean Heffernan, 9. Nik Mrdja, 10. Adrian Caceres, 11. Dylan Macallister, 13. Paul O-Grady, 15. Andrew Clark, 16. Nigel Boogaard, 17. Matthew Osman, 18. Alex Wilkinson, 20. Danny Vukovic (gk), 21. Ahmad Elrich, 22. Nick Rizzo, 23. Adam Kwasnik, 30. Andrew Redmayne (gk)

The Mariners- inaugural AFC Champions League campaign will resume at Central Coast Stadium, where they will take on Japan-s Kawasaki Frontale on Wednesday, 8 April. Kick off is at 8pm.

Tickets for this match are on sale from Ticketek outlets, from the Ticketek website –, or via phone on 132 849.