Asian Football Confederation - Champions League 2013

Mariners dry up in ACL
by Chris Dunkerley

Group H - Round 1 - 1st Leg
7:00pm, Wednesday 27 February, 2013
at Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Central Coast Mariners FC 0
drew with
Suwon Bluewings FC 0

On a dry and warm evening in Gosford the football pride of South Korea and the football pride of NSW tested each other out - but over the 94 minutes it was the defences that stood dominant, ending in a 0-0 draw.

Central Coast Mariners FC had punched 6 goals past Melbourne Victory on the same ground 4 days before, and have scored an average of just under 2 goals per game in the A-league. Australia's entry into the AFC Champions League group stages however found their scoring had dried up along with the ground since Saturday evening.

It was the Mariners who were generally in control in the game however, although having a salary bill only 1/15th of the prominent K-League side, Suwon Bluewings.

It was South Korean international goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong who kept the visitors one point, when he saved a 87th minute penalty taken by the Coast's English import Nick Montgomery.

Both sides started cautiously and it was the Mariners stand-in captain Michael McGlinchey who created the first real attack when he weaved into the area in the 12th minute but his off-target shot was deflected.

Eight minutes later Suwon's Hong Chul’s close in attempt was deflected into the side netting by a timely intercept by Pedj Bojic.

McGlinchey failed to control a ball in the Bluewings penalty area in the 28th minute, and three minutes later Zac Anderson could only get a weak header in, which did not trouble Jung Sung-ryong.

In the 36th minute Cho Dong-gun broke away in the 38th minute but under pressure could only manage a toe-poke, that Mariners' 'keeper Mat Ryan gathered.

After the break Suwon switched their tactics to press early and close down the Mariners midfield and funnel their wide play. It worked well enough that both Michael McGlinchey and Pedj Bojic found themselves central but could not get a telling shot in.

Mariner's substitite Mitchell Duke sought to break this formation shortly after coming on in the 62nd minute, he got one on one with the 'keeper from the left but the custodian narrowed the angle and despite a second bite in the box the big striker was denied.

A wild back-pass from the left in the 78th minute almost saw blushes for the Mariners as it eluded Mat Ryan and continued past the outside of the far post for a corner.

A rush of blood to the head for Kwak Kwang-sun when in seeking to head the ball out of the penalty area on the left with no real pressure he made a blatant handball to stop the ball getting past him into safe territory. Alas Nick Montgomery's penalty taking skills were found wanting as the big Suwon glove-man picked the right way and and got down on to the ball.

In stoppage time Pedj Bojic again found himself central in the area, when the ball came to him but he swung clumsily at it and the last chance was gone.

“It was a great effort. Last year the players lacked a little bit of confidence and belief and respected the opposition too much in the AFC Champions League - but after that performance you have to carry the belief and confidence into the next five games at least because in my view it was a very good performance against a quality opposition,” said Mariners coach Graham Arnold.

“With the restrictions we have to operate under in Australia with salary cap compared to what they have is enormous. They have got some top quality Korea Republic internationals, a DPR Korea international and a Montenegrin international and we totally dominated the game. We changed our game plan to keep the ball more and be a little bit more patient and I thought we did exceptionally well.

He added, "It’s definitely two points we have lost. We totally outplayed them and had some great chances, but we could not get it in. Their goalkeeper is the best goalkeeper in Korea, he is their national team goalkeeper, and he made some good saves.”

It was the first game of the season for us and it was very difficult. Central Coast Mariners are a very strong team and we are happy with a point,” said Suwon's coach Seo Jung-Won. “We will look to address our weaknesses for the next game and we will look to play better.”

In the other group game at Guiyang Olympic Centre Stadium in Guiyang, China the visitors Kashiwa Reysol FC of Japan snatched a 1-0 win over Guizhou Renhe FC.

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