“We know this is a massive game” – Jacko ahead of AFC Cup clash

Central Coast Mariners Football Manager Mark Jackson was on pre-match media duty, alongside striker Ryan Edmondson, ahead of our AFC Cup Zonal Final clash with Macarthur.

The two A-League sides made it through their groups with minor trouble, losing just once each, before cruising through Zonal Semi-Finals with 4-0 and 3-0 home wins respectively.

Two of the Isuzu UTE A-League’s top-performing clubs now meet for the title of ‘ASEAN Zone Champions’ and a place in the Inter-Zonal Semi-Finals.

READ MORE: Match Preview: A-League high-flyers meet in AFC Cup Zonal Final

“We are looking forward to the game and to the contest that Macarthur will present.” Jackson said.

“We played them earlier on in the season and they got the victory. They are a team that are doing really well, they are on a good run of form. We are excited for the game.”

The Mariners have balanced seven additional games already, with trips to Malaysia, Bali and the Phillipines all adding extra difficulty to their schedule but Jackson sees this only as a privilege.

It’s a privilege that we are in this competition, we are taking it seriously and want to go as far as we can in it.

Mark Jackson on whether the AFC Cup is a ‘distraction’.

“Although it has been challenging at times with the travel, we trust in what we do and our staff to be able to cope with these elements of the game.”

“If these players want to go on to play at the highest level, they need to be able to cope with busy schedules,” he said.

The financial rewards of this competition have well publicised but Jackson maintains the players are solely focussed on winning football matches:

There is a financial reward for the club, but our motivation is to win games of football, we don’t look at anything else. We just want to win football matches.

Mark Jackson on AFC Cup financial reward.

“We were really disappointed to lose our streak to Sydney but since then we have bounced back well.”

Jackson is well aware of Macarthur’s threats but insists the Mariners are focussed on themselves and what they can exploit from the Bulls.

“We know this is going to be a massive game and it’s a tough opponent that we’re coming up against.”

“We always do our research into our opponents, the staff are great at that. We discuss things and see how we are going to approach the game.”

“A high percentage of what we do in games is focussed on us, we never want to deviate away from what we want to achieve in games.”

We have to respect Macarthur because we feel they are a real threat from a goalscoring point of view.

They’ve got good wide players, attacking full backs and players in the middle of the park that rotate a lot, which at times can be difficult to deal with. But we have also seen things that we feel we can exploit.

Jackson on Macarthur’s threats.

Edmondson “absolutely loving” Coast life after Mariners move and first career hat-trick.

The last game is nothing to do wwith me, the boys had put in a brilliant shift for the first 60 minutes and fortunately I was able to come on and make an impact.

To get a personal milestone with my first professional hat-trick I was over the moon but I was even more happy with our team performane and to get through.

I’m absolutely loving it, it was a big change but in the connections that I have with this club having worked with Jacko and Danny Schofield previously, it’s made the transition a lot easier and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of lads to come in to. I’m enjoying every step of it.

“As a young striker goals are massive, to be able get off the mark is a special thing and it builds confidence.

“I’ve only been in the country a month, I’m still adapting but we are getting better step by step.”

“It’s a good competition to be in, we just want to win football games. The boys are loving [the busy schedule] just having game after game, being able to step out onto a pitch and show people what we can do. We are very excited for it.”