Qualification in Mariners hands ahead of Stallions AFC Cup clash

Central Coast Mariners are looking to seal a place in the knockout rounds of the AFC Cup when they face Stallions Laguna on Wednesday evening.

Mark Jackson and his squad make the trip to the Phillipines knowing they simply have to match or better Terengganu’s result against Bali United, to confirm their place at the top of Group G and you can watch live via 10play from 7pm.

A positive result for The Mariners would also extend their unbeaten in all competitions to five games, after a run of improved results at home in previous weeks.

The reverse fixture (Matchday Two of the AFC Cup) saw Jackson take charge of his first Mariners game back in early October and he oversaw an emphatic victory on a rain-soaked night at Our Paradise.

A hat-trick for Marco Tulio, a brace for Dylan Wenzel-Halls and goals for Brian Kaltak, Alou Kuol, Angel Torres and Josh Nisbet ensured it was an enjoyable welcome on the coast for our Manager.

AFC Cup so far

The Mariners have qualification within reach after three wins, one draw and one defeat in five games.

Stallions on the other hand sit at the foot of Group G, with their only point so far coming against Terengganu on Matchday Three.

Last time out we were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Terengganu at Our Paradise, but Miguel Di Pizio’s first senior goal ensured that top spot and progression is still in our hands ahead of the final group game.

Last time out

The Mariners delivered arguably their strongest performance of the season on Friday evening as they ran out comfortable and deserved 4-0 winners over Western United in the Isuzu UTE A-League at Our Paradise.

Dan Hall powered home his first of the season to get the ball rolling on 11 minutes before centre back partner Kaltack followed suit to make it 2-0 after 24 minutes.

Tulio made it 3-0 in characteristically stylish fashion just before half time, curling home the pick of the goals on the night.

Late on, Mariners made it 4-0 as Kuol pounced in the box to notch his third A-League goal of the campaign.

Stallions were last in action on November 29th when they were beaten 5-2 by Bali United. Their domestic campaign has now finished so Wednesday’s meeting with Mariners is set to be their final game of the season.

Player to Watch

Despite having to wait until Friday evening to open his 23/24 A-League account, Tulio has been in red-hot form in the AFC Cup and Stallions will be weary of his threat, after he bagged a hat-trick against them on Matchday Two.

Tulio backed up that hat-trick with a brace against Bali United and the winner against the same opponents from the spot on Matchday Four.

His tally of six sees him currently joint-second in the AFC Cup scoring charts.

What’s been said ahead of the match?

Jackson and Hall were both on media duties in the Phillipines, here’s what our in-form centre back had to say:

We know it’s going to be a tough game but we feel very well prepared to progress to the next stage of the AFC Cup.

We can take confidence from the win [against Stallions] previously, but football can go either way so we are not taking anything easy and coming into this game fully prepared.

Jackson echoed Hall’s thoughts on how nothing will be taken for granted in the Phillipines. He said:

We know how important this game is, to qualify for the next stages. We are fully prepared, the squad is here and ready to go and get the result we need.

Football can be funny, we had a good win last time at home but if you’re not on top of your game, if you’re not prepared, football can throw surprises up. We are fully focussed and ready to perform and give everything on the pitch.