Mariners head to Korea feeling invincible

April 22, 2013
By Angela Habashy

Newly-crowned A-League champions Central Coast say they feel invincible heading into Tuesday's Asian Champions League clash in South Korea.

The Mariners beat Western Sydney 2-0 in Sunday's grand final to break though for their maiden championship triumph after three failed attempts in 2006, 2008 and 2011.

Celebrations where cut short, however, as the entire team - excluding suspended captain John Hutchinson - boarded an early morning flight to South Korea.

The Mariners contest their ACL match with Suwon Bluewings on Tuesday, only 48 hours after their Allianz Stadium victory.

But youngster Trent Sainsbury says the team has managed to focus on the crucial group-stage clash.

"We all were celebrating last night but in the back of everyone's mind we all knew we'd still had a job to do in Korea," he told AAP from Sydney Airport on Monday.

"So it took a bit of the shine away from it.

"But the boys have all managed to get their minds focused on Tuesday's match."

The Mariners are currently third in Group H, one point ahead of Suwon and need at least a point to keep their hopes of qualifying to the knockout stages alive.

Suwon, who are equally desperate for points, will be hoping to take advantage of a weary Central Coast side.

But Sainsbury says if anything Sunday's win has reinvigorated them.

"The way we're feeling right now, we feel invincible," he said.

"So we feel we can go and give things a real shake in Korea.

"We're going there for the three points and we go there with all the confidence in the world."

Englishman Nick Montgomery is likely to replace Hutchinson in midfield but while 36-year-old Daniel McBreen joked he "may have a groin injury" and miss the clash, he was among the travelling squad.

This doesn't mean he'll play, however, with coach Graham Arnold likely to field a different side to the one he did on Sunday, possibly resting some of the older players.

The last time the Mariners played Suwon they drew 0-0 in Gosford and playing them away will be a much tough prospect, especially considering the Central Coast have yet to win an ACL match on the road.

Suwon have been in blistering form domestically and sit second on the K-League ladder.

They come into the match on the back of a 4-1 win over Daejeong, courtesy of a hat-trick from striker Tae-Se Jong - no doubt the side's dangerman.

But Sainsbury feels the Mariners have them covered.

"Last time we played them, we played them at home and I thought we played them off the park and deserved to win," he said.

"This time if we go over there and stick to our game plan, I'm sure Arnie has something in store for us, we'll come away with a win."