AFC Champions League preview: Mariners on verge of history
By Football News
Central Coast Mariners can create history if they beat Kashiwa Reysol in their AFC Asian Champions League clash in Gosford on Tuesday.
The newly crowned A-League champions have failed to progress to the knockout phase of the competition in their two previous appearances.
But the Mariners - who claimed a stunning 1-0 victory in Suwon on matchday five - sit second in Group H, four points behind leaders Kashiwa and two clear of rivals Guizhou Renhe heading into Tuesday's final group fixtures.
And the equation is simple for Graham Arnold's men - emerge victorious at Bluetongue and a last-16 berth alongside Kashiwa awaits.
Looking at the Mariners' form in Gosford, you wouldn't put it past them to get the result they desire.
The Mariners are unbeaten in their past five Asian Champions League games, a run stretching back to last season however they are yet to beat Japanese opposition on home soil.
But even if results don't go the Mariners' way on Tuesday, they can still make it out of the group if hosts Guizhou fail to beat Suwon, who have already been eliminated.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, dual Asian Champions League semi-finalists Bunyodkor can seal top spot in Group G and qualification if they don't lose to third-placed Pohang Steelers, who need to win by at least four goals to have any chance of advancing.
The other Group G match sees Beijing Guoan make the trip to bottom side Sanfrecce Hiroshima, needing a win to secure progression.
Two-time Saudi Arabian champions and Group C leaders Al Ahli host winless Al Nasr on Tuesday, while Al Gharafa travel to Sepahan.
Esteghlal, who have already qualified for the next round, face Al Ain in Group D action, while Al Hilal need a point against Al Rayyan to progress.
On Wednesday, Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande do battle with Jeonbuk Motors in the Group F top-two battle and Muangthong United host Urawa Red Diamonds.
Marcello Lippi's side have scored a competition-high 14 goals and require a point to officially confirm their place in the next round.
In other scheduled matches, Group E winners FC Seoul host Buriram United, Jiangsu Sainty meet Vegalta Sendai, Lekhwiya faceoff against Al Ittifaq, Pakhtakor welcome UAE's Al Shabab to Tashkent, Al Jazira make the trek to Group A winners Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia, and Tractor Sazi entertain El Jaish.