THE Central Coast Mariners’ chances of progressing to the second round of the 2012 AFC Champions League have been dealt a heavy blow after Graham Arnold’s men were outclassed 5-0 by Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in Korea on Wednesday night.
THE Central Coast Mariners- chances of progressing to the second round of the 2012 AFC Champions League have been dealt a heavy blow after Graham Arnold-s men were outclassed 5-0 by Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma in Korea on Wednesday night.
Having not lost at Tancheon Sports Complex in Asia-s premier club competition since 2004, the home side proved too swift, too skilful and too strong for a Mariners outfit fatigued from their exertions in the Hyundai A-League preliminary final played last Saturday night.
A brace from tricky Brazilian Everton Santos combined with goals from Changhoon, Sunghwan and Vladimir Jovancic did the damage for Shin Tae-yong-s team, as they ran away with the match in the second stanza.
Indeed, after the home team started the brighter of the two sides the Mariners began to get a foothold in the game, keeping possession more consistently and creating a few half chances.
But two goals in six minutes before the interval set the platform for Seongnam to claim their first win of this seasons AFC Champions League, and put themselves in the box seat with Japan-s Nagoya Grampus to advance from Group G.
In the 39th minute, Changhoon opened the scoring for the hosts. After a neat move through midfield, the crafty player clinically fired home after Serbian striker Jovancic had squared the ball from the right side.
Just four minutes later Seongnam doubled their advantage. This time, Everton showed his prowess in the box to fire an acrobatic volley past Mathew Ryan in the Mariners- goal.
In a bid to freshen up his side Arnold tinkered with his team at the break, bringing on Troy Hearfield for Adam Kwasnik and Trent Sainsbury for Oliver Bozanic. The changes resulted in a shift in formation, with Michael McGlinchey switching from right midfield to left in a four-five-one structure.
And, the switches seemed to work immediately following the intermission as the yellow and navy created two chances to find the back of the net.
First substitute Sainsbury smashed a shot just high of Kangjin-s goal, before a nice touch from Hearfield opened an opportunity for Mustafa Amini who rocketed his effort over the woodwork.
Unfortunately for Central Coast, as their legs wearied Seongnam were ready to add gloss to the scoreline from their perspective and enhance their chances of progressing to the knockout phase of the tournament.
Captain Sunghwan rifled a powerful effort into the net on the angle in the 69th minute before Seongnam were awarded a penalty just three minutes later. Keen to claim his brace, Everton stepped up to send Ryan the wrong way and make the score 4-0 in favour of the hosts.
Seongnam completed the rout seven minutes from time when Jovancic finally got his goal having spurned a number of decent opportunities throughout the match.
After the game, Mariners boss Arnold acknowledged his team was outplayed by a superior opponent on the night but maintained his pride in his players.
“First of all I-d like to congratulate Seongnam for the victory, but I want to apologise if I may for our performance tonight,” he said. “But there is one very good reason behind our performance. We had to play on Saturday night 120 minutes in a finals game, plus a penalty shoot out.”
“The older players were quite physically tired because of the heavy schedule and we played with four 19-year-olds and an 18-year-old … so yes I am disappointed with the result but I am very proud of the effort that my players put in after what they have been asked to do.”
Arnold added that he believes the capacity of clubs in Asia-s big leagues to sign up large squads of players, and hence rotate them through exhaustive periods of the season aided their ambition to achieve in Asia-s top club competition.
“It-s a difficult task through the season of play to still only have a squad of 23 players, with three youngsters, compared to clubs in Korea and Japan that have 35 man squads,” he said.
“The difference in performances from the home game to this game was the players are fatigued and tired. They had no spark, no power, because they-ve had a very schedule.”
“It-s not an excuse, it-s reality – reality that to performance at international level it is very difficult to play 120 minutes on Saturday night, travel all day Sunday and play against a very good football team in Seongnam on Wednesday.”
“Both us and Brisbane (Roar) have had to endure it and it does make it tough to be successful in both competitions.”
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma 5 (Changhoon 39-, Everton Santos 43-, 73-, Sunghwan 69-, Jovancic 83-)
Central Coast Mariners 0
Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma: 1. Kangjin (Gk), 3. Youngsun, 6. Jinpo, 8. Sungjoon (14. Bitgaram 77-), 9. Everton, 10. Jovancic, 16. Sunghwan (C), 18. Changhoon (13. Hyunho 86-), 19. Woong (12. Chul 77-), 20. Hevertinho, 35. Jongeun
Subs not used: 5. Jaekwang, 15. Pyungrae, 21. San (Gk), 33. Hyeonwoo
Yellow Cards: Sunghwan
Red cards: None
Central Coast Mariners: 1. Mathew Ryan (Gk), 6. Patrick Zwaanswijk, 7. John Hutchinson, 11. Oliver Bozanic (16. Trent Sainsbury 45-), 14. Michael McGlinchey (9. Bernie Ibini 66-), 18. Alex Wilkinson (C), 19. John Sutton, 21. Sam Gallagher, 22. Mustafa Amini, 23. Adam Kwasnik (12. Troy Hearfield 45-), 27. Trent McClenahan
Subs not used: 2. Daniel McBreen, 4. Pedj Bojic, 17. Tomas Rogic, 20. Justin Pasfield
Yellows cards: Zwaanswijk
Red cards: None
Referee: Saeid Mozaffari (I.R. Iran)