Mariners in SOS to Socceroos

Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold will ask Socceroos boss Holger Osieck for a helping hand next week as he hopes to arrange a friendly between the Mariners and the Australian national team.
Nanjing Night Net

After successfully qualifying for the knockout stages of the Asian Champions League, Arnold will give his players the next four days off to recover from what has been an arduous campaign, having also claimed the A-League championship last month.

But he hopes he can spike his side’s sharpness after the mini-break with a friendly against the Australian team in Gosford, where the A-League-based Socceroos will be in camp in the lead-up to next month’s decisive World Cup qualifier matches.

“I’ll have to maybe ask a favour off Football Federation Australia,” he said. “The Socceroos are in camp next week and we need a game. It’d be great if we could play the home-based Socceroos in a friendly game next Thursday just to keep us fit.”

The FFA confirmed to Fairfax Media that it would be more than possible – but it requires Osieck’s approval first.

The Socceroos will be staying in the region for a camp that crosses over with one being staged by Young Socceroos, who are beginning their preparations for the under-20 World Cup in Turkey next month.

Arnold is keen for his Mariners to have a hit-out against both sides.

“I had a brief discussion with Gary Moretti [Socceroos team manager],” he said. “They need a game, the under-20s need a game, [and] we can accommodate both teams. If they’ll help us, that’ll be fantastic because we need a game.”

The first leg of the Mariners’ round of 16 ACL match is at home on May 15 before the return leg will on May 22.

Central Coast’s opponents won’t be known until Wednesday night, when the two top teams in Group F – China’s Guangzhou Evergrande and South Korea’s Jeonbuk Motors – square off at Guangzhou’s Tianhe stadium.

Despite losing a 3-2 thriller against Urawa Red Diamonds last week, the Chinese side has a one-point advantage over Jeonbuk.

The Mariners will face whoever finishes top of the group, while the second-placed team will play Kashiwa Reysol, who disposed of the Mariners 3-0 at Bluetongue Stadium on Tuesday night.

Arnold said he was holding himself responsible for what happened in the second half, when the visitors scored all three goals.

“I take responsibility from 1-0 on because I thought the first 60 minutes we were really good value,” he said. “When they got the goal against the run of play we went man on man over the whole park. We tried to press high, and that gave them more space.

“When you give quality players more space they hurt you but we had to go for it, and we couldn’t rely on the other result. We had to try and get it back and win the game ourselves. We opened up, we gave too much space and we played into their hands.”

However, in the end, the Mariners had to rely on the other result – and it came up trumps, with Suwon Bluewings holding on for a 2-2 draw away to Guizhou Renhe.

Only last week did the Mariners’ end Suwon’s hopes of qualifying from the group stages with a stunning 1-0 win.

“We’ve got to thank Suwon but the result last week was the result that got us into the last 16,” he said. “It’s a wonderful history-making moment.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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