A-Leagues in Asia: How to watch tonight’s AFC Cup showdown between Mariners & an A-Leagues legend

Get set for tonight’s AFC Cup Inter Zone Semi-Final first leg as Isuzu UTE A-League champions Central Coast Mariners go head-to-head with Odisha FC.

Having defeated fellow Isuzu UTE A-League side Macarthur FC 3-2 in the ASEAN Zonal Final, the Mariners must now overcome Indian Super League (ISL) side Odisha FC over two legs if they are to continue their quest to lift the AFC Cup.

Buy your tickets to the AFC Cup here!

Kick-off time and how to watch

The match is scheduled to get underway at 7:00pm AEDT on Thursday, March 7. The game will also be broadcast live and free via 10 Play


Tickets for Thursday night’s knockout fixture can be purchased HERE

Team news

First things first, how did the Mariners get here?

Mark Jackson’s Mariners qualified for the AFC Cup Inter Zonal Semi-Finals care of a dramatic 3-2 win over Macarthur FC on February 22, a result which saw them crowned ASEAN Zone champions and thus qualifying them for the current stage of the competition.

Prior to that they had to overcome Phnom Penh Crown FC in the ASEAN Zone Semi-Finals and they did so, defeating the Cambodian side 4-0 at Industree Group stadium thanks to a hat-trick from striker Ryan Edmondson.

When you add those two games to the six group-stage matches they had already played, the Mariners have certainly had to go the long way round in order to secure a spot amongst the final six teams in the competition – not to mention the travel which has so far seen them play games in Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia.

Whats the story of the Mariners’ season so far?

They may be the reigning Isuzu UTE A-League champions but it took the Mariners a little while to gel to new head coach Jackson’s way of playing. In fact, they lost their first four games of their title defence.

That all changed on November 25 though as Central Coast finally got off the mark in the league, defeating rivals Newcastle Jets 3-1 in the F3 Derby to hand Jackson his first league win as boss whilst also starting a long unbeaten run for the men in yellow and blue.

Including AFC Cup matches, the Mariners proceeded to go on an impressive 14-game run which saw them not only top their AFC Cup group but also quickly rise up the league ladder.

Saturday’s 1-0 away win over Newcastle saw the Mariners move top of the table for the first time this season and while Wellington Phoenix did regain their place at the league’s summit by the end of the round, Central Coast are certainly a team in form.

Furthermore, the side from the Central Coast have amassed a whopping 20 points from their last nine league matches, a feat made even more impressive given that also coincides with the club selling one of their star players in the form of Brazilian Marco Tulio, who moved to Japan in early January.

Who are Odisha FC?

Formerly known as Delhi Dynamos FC, Odisha FC currently sit top of the ISL and are well and truly in the mix when it comes to securing their first ever premiership with four games to go.

A-Leagues fans will certainly recognise Odisha’s star striker when he takes to the field in Gosford on Thursday night as Johnny Warren Medallist and 2018-19 Isuzu UTE A-League Golden Boot winner Roy Krishna returns to an Australian venue for the first time since leaving Wellington Phoenix for India in 2019.

In Spaniard Sergio Lobera, Odisha have a coach familiar with winning silverware. With two ISL titles under his belt already, Lobera arrived in India following a spell as head coach of now La Liga side UD Las Palmas.

However before he was poached by the Canary Islands outfit, Lobera cut his teeth as an assistant to the late Tito Villanova at Barcelona, where he worked alongside the likes Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez on a daily basis before he accepted an offer from Las Palmas.

Prior to his promotion to assistant, Lobera was a prominent figure within Barcelona’s famous La Masia academy, working alongside some of world football’s best ever players whilst also rubbing shoulders with a certain Pep Guardiola, then Barcelona B coach.

Furthermore, Thursday’s game also represents a chance for Central Coast fans to see one of their former players return to Gosford, with Cy Goddard set to feature for the Indian side having made 21 appearances for the Mariners during the 2021-22 season.

How did they reach the AFC Cup Inter Zonal Semi-Finals?

Odisha had a far less convoluted route than that of the Mariners to reach this stage of the competition although it wasn’t all plain sailing for Lobera’s side.

Drawn in a group alongside fellow ISL side Mohun Bagan, Bangladesh’s Bashundhara Kings and Maziya S&RC of the Maldives, ‘The Juggernauts’ actually suffered consecutive defeats to kick off their campaign.

A brace from former A-Leagues man Dimi Petratos contributed to a 4-0 home loss against Indian champions Mohun Bagan while they were then defeated 3-2 away in Bangladeshi against the Kings.

However from that moment on they remained perfect. Home and away wins against Maldivian side Maziya had them in a better position in the group before a stunning 5-2 on the road against Jason Cummings’ Mohun Bagan coupled with a final round win over the Bashundhara Kings saw them crowned AFC South Zone champions.

In fact, when comparing Odisha’s and the Mariners’ journeys to the Semi-Finals, the Indian side have had to do a lot less travelling than the Australian club whilst they’ve also only had to play six matches compared to the Mariners’ eight in order to reach this stage of the competition.

What kind of form are they in?

With four games to go, The Juggernauts are currently sat on top of the ISL although they come into this game having suffered their first league defeat in 13 games.

Despite Golden Boot leader Krishna bagging his 12th goal of the campaign, Odisha succumbed to a 94th-minute winner against Chennaiyin FC, scored by none other than former Central Coast Mariners striker Jordan Murray.

That said, Odisha remain on top of the pile for now however second-placed Mumbai City are level on points but with a game in hand while JCummings and Co. remain hot on their heels, with Mohun Bagan sat in third place with two games in hand.

How far away are these sides from reaching the final?

Despite having multiple knockout stages and ‘finals’ so far, we’re now into the business end of the AFC Cup.

Central Coast’s win over Macarthur in the last round saw them crowned champions of the ASEAN Zone, where they joined South Zone champions Odisha FC, Central Zone champions FC Abdysh-Ata Kant of Kyrgyzstan and East Zone champions Taichung Futuro of Taiwan.

With the two semi-finals now set, should the Mariners overcome Odisha over two legs they will then play the winner of FC Abdysh-Ata Kant v Taichung Futuro – again over two legs – for a spot in the AFC Cup final, where they will meet the winner of the Western Zone semi-final between Al-Ahed of Lebanon and Oman’s Al-Nahda Club.