DUTCH stopper Patrick Zwaanswijk believes he and defensive partner Alex Wilkinson have what it takes to nullify the threat of Qantas Socceroo Josh Kennedy…
DUTCH stopper Patrick Zwaanswijk believes he and defensive partner Alex Wilkinson have what it takes to nullify the threat of Qantas Socceroo Josh Kennedy when the Central Coast Mariners meet Nagoya Grampus in Japan on Tuesday evening.
The 2012 AFC Champions League Group G Matchday 6 encounter is a high-stakes, winner-takes-all contest, with the victor of the clash progressing to the second round of Asia-s premier club competition.
Following the Mariners- first training session in the land of the rising sun, Zwaanswijk said he feels that if he and Wilkinson can perform at the same level to which they did in the first meeting between the two sides in Gosford earlier this year, Kennedy will experience a torrid night.
“I-ve seen the last five or six games of him with the National Team while I-ve been in Australia,” Zwaanswijk said of the former Karlsruhe frontman.
“He-s a big guy, a tall guy so he-s always dangerous inside the box.
“(But) we know he doesn-t have a lot of pace so he-s not going to beat us in that.
“The only thing where he can beat us is in the 18-yard-box, and that-s where we have to keep him away from.
“If we play as well here (as we did in the home game) then I think we can beat them.”
Having spent his 2004/05 season in Japan with Oita Trinita, Zwaanswijk is indeed well versed in the quality of Japanese football.
But, with the yellow and navy having sent boss Graham Arnold to Kobe a day ahead of the squad to scout Grampus in their J-League test against Vissel, Zwaanswijk reckons Arnold-s observations may afford the Mariners an upper-hand come kick-off.
“‘Arnie-s- been here a day before us, he saw the team (Nagoya) play against Kobe so he can inform us a bit more how they are doing at the moment,” he said.
And despite entering the tail end of his career, Zwaanswijk has lost none of the passion and drive that saw him succeed in the Dutch Eredivise. Undeniably, the experienced defender understands the enormity of Tuesday-s encounter.
“You want to play as many matches as you can, especially in the Champions League,” he said.
“It-s not only good for the Club, it-s good for the name of the Mariners.”
“I think it-s a good experience for the guys as well. As long as we play well and prepare well we have to get a good match out of Tuesday.”
Oliver Bozanic (knee) and Troy Hearfield (back) have both missed the trip to Japan with minor injuries. Sam Gallagher – who signed with Melbourne Victory earlier this season – was last week granted an early contract release in order to appear for his new Club in their forthcoming international friendly clash with Olympiakos. Right-back Pedj Bojic is suspended for the fixture.
Central Coast Mariners Squad vs. Nagoya Grampus: 1. Mathew RYAN (Gk), 2. Daniel MCBREEN, 3. Joshua ROSE, 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 9. Bernie IBINI, 10. Adriano PELLEGRINO, 14. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 15. Brad MCDONALD, 16. Trent SAINSBURY, 17. Tomas ROGIC, 18. Alex WILKINSON (C), 20. Justin PASFIELD (Gk), 22. Mustafa AMINI, 23. Adam KWASNIK, 24. Mitchell DUKE, 25. Anthony CACERES, 27. Trent MCCLENAHAN
AFC Champions League Matchday 6
Nagoya Grampus vs. Central Coast Mariners
Kick-off: 7pm (local); 8pm (AEDT)
Mizuho Athletic Stadium, Nagoya, Japan
Twitter: Join the match conversation on Twitter. The official match hash-tag is #ACLngccm
Special event: Join Lawrie McKinna, non-travelling Mariners players and like-minded fans at Mingara Recreation Club for the match. Click here for more details.