Locked in: Mariners’ AFC Cup Final date, opponent confirmed as potential $2.3m windfall awaits

Central Coast book spot in AFC Cup final with 3-0 win over Abdysh-Ata Kant | AFC Cup Highlights

Central Coast Mariners have ended Australia’s 10-year wait to see an Isuzu UTE A-League club reach a continental cup final, defeating Abdysh-Ata Kant over two legs to reach the AFC Cup title decider.

Only twice prior to this season’s monumental feat by the Mariners has an A-Leagues club reached a final in Asian competition, following Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide United who reached the final of the AFC Asian Champions League in 2014 and 2008 respectively.

The Wanderers went one step further than Adelaide, winning the 2014 ACL Final; Central Coast now have the chance to join Western Sydney as the only other A-Leagues club to win silverware in AFC competition in the 2024 AFC Cup Final against Lebanese club Al Ahed FC on Sunday May 5.

The Mariners reached the AFC Cup Final after a 3-0 win over Abdysh-Ata Kant in the second leg of the Inter-Zonal Finals, sealing a 4-1 aggregate win over the Kyrgyz club.

Teenage Mariners substitute Miguel Di Pizio inspired the A-Leagues club to victory, coming off the bench to bag two goals either side of a Mikael Doka strike as the Mariners cruised to the final game of the tournament.

The Mariners are now guaranteed a windfall of more than $1 million AUD for reaching the final; the winner will take home USD $1.5 million (AUD $2.3 million), with the runners-up collecting USD $750,000 (AUD $1.14m).

MATCH REPORT: Teenager’s special night in Gosford sends Mariners to AFC Cup Final & a potential $2.3m payday

Incredibly, Central Coast’s progression to the AFC Cup Final also keeps the club in pursuit of five pieces of silverware this season.

The potential quintuple could be achieved by both the club’s Isuzu UTE A-League Men and Liberty A-League Women sides; having already won the Club Championship – a trophy given to the A-Leagues club that accumulates the most point across both the men’s and women’s leagues – the men’s team could win the Premiership this weekend, with the Championship then becoming an achievable goal.

Central Coast’s women’s side is currently 1-0 down on aggregate in a two-legged Semi-Final against Sydney FC; the return leg takes place on Saturday, April 27 at Leichhardt Oval.

Turning the tide against the Sky Blues would put the Mariners’ Liberty A-League side into the Grand Final for a shot at becoming Champions.