WELL, well, well!
WELL, well, well!
Reactions don-t come much better than that.
Last week I said that one of the many things I have admired about the Mariners squad we currently have is their ability to bounce back from a poor performance and/or result.
Coach Graham Arnold has built that resilience in the squad and the performance against Seongnam in Korea – where we were touched up 5-0 a few weeks back – left us all reeling.
Fast forward to Wednesday night against Tianjin Teda for the penultimate round of the Asian Champions League group stage and we went within a whisker of completely nullifying the for and against we suffered in Korea with an emphatic and scintillating 5-1 victory on our home patch.
The football the boys produced, the chances we created (probably triple the amount of goals we scored) and the actual goals we did score were a culmination of everything that is good about this group of players.
“Arnie-s” stamp on the squad was clear on Wednesday night as we systematically broke down a defensive Tianjin, who opted to play with a back five for long periods of the game, with crisp short passing, good ball and player movement and great use of the wide areas.
In truth it could have been a much higher scoreline in our favour and when you take into account Tianjin-s player budget of around $30million a year dwarfs ours of just over $2million it puts in perspective what a great performance it was.
Yes, Tianjin put out a weakened squad but they have over 30 players to select from compared with our 22.
“Arnie” keeps telling the boys the ACL is about representing the Central Coast but also the whole of Australia on the Asian stage and on Wednesday night we not only created a slice of history by notching up the club-s first ever ACL victory but we also did our country proud.
The ACL – Asia-s version of the European Champions League – still hasn-t caught on in Australia at the turnstiles but give the competition time and football fans and business people alike will soon realise the massive doors it can open.
Wednesday night-s match marked the final home game for crowd favourite Mustafa Amini and he farewelled his adoring fans with a fantastic goal to round out the scoring on the night. It was also fitting that big striker Daniel McBreen capped a great performance with a brace of goals.
A team performance and result that leaves us heading to Japan to face heavyweights Nagoya Grampus in a fortnight full of belief that we can progress to the next stage of this competition.