A-Leagues in Asia: How to watch Macarthur and Mariners’ AFC Cup showdowns tonight


Isuzu UTE A-League sides Central Coast Mariners and Macarthur FC continue their quest for AFC Cup glory on Tuesday evening. aleagues.com.au has all you need to know ahead of the ASEAN zonal semi-finals.

6pm (AEDT): Macarthur FC v Sabah FC – Campbelltown Sports Stadium

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Team news

How they got here

The Bulls kick things off first on Tuesday evening with a home clash against Malaysian side Sabah FC.

Mile Sterjovski’s side cruised to the knockout stages of the competition, winning five of their six games with French striker Valere Germain leading the way with four goals.

As for their opponents, affectionately known as ‘The Rhinos’, Sabah qualified for the knockout stages of the AFC Cup having topped Group H with four wins from six.

Kicking things off with a 3-1 home win over Singaporean side Hougang United, Sabah then won 5-0 away in Indonesia against PSM Makassar before suffering their first loss away in Vietnam against Hai Phong. Consecutive 4-1 victories then secured their spot on top of Group H before they lost their final group game.

Opposition Report

Despite reeling off seven-straight wins to finish the domestic season, Sabah FC still finished the Malaysia Super League in third place, 22 points behind the eventual league champions.

Furthermore, they haven’t played a competitive game of football since December 18. In fact, they’ve only been back in pre-season training for a few weeks and their most recent game came on January 10; a 2-1 friendly victory over Romanian side Rapid Bucuresti.

Ones to watch

Players to watch out for are Brazilian forward Ramon and English-born Malaysian striker Darren Lok, who both found the back of the net 13 times during the course of last season, with six of Lok’s goals coming in the AFC Cup.

Finally, the Malaysian side also shares something in common with the Isuzu UTE A-League given they also have their own version of the Distance Derby – a 3,800 kilometre trip to play Penang.

They also have an Australian technical director in 14-time Socceroo Scott Ollerenshaw!

8pm (AEDT): Central Coast Mariners v Phnom Penh Crown FC – Industree Group Stadium

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How they got here

Following on from Macarthur’s clash with Sabah is an intriguing affair between Central Coast Mariners and Phnom Penh Crown FC.

Despite suffering defeat in their opening game away in Malaysia, The Mariners went on to top their group after scoring 17 goals in the space of three matches.

However a draw with Malaysian side Terrenganu meant they needed to win their final group game to guarantee their spot in the knockout rounds and they duly did, recording a 3-0 win in the Philippines.

As for their opponents, Cambodian side Phnom Penh Crown FC actually finished runners up in the same group as Macarthur and gave the Bulls a run for their money in Group F.

After convincing wins over Filipino side Cebu FC and Myanmar’s Shan United, Oleg Starynskyi’s side then defeated Macarthur 3-0 in Cambodia.

However Macarthur got their revenge against the ‘Red Singha’, brushing them aside 5-0 on their way to securing top spot in the group as the Cambodians suffered defeat in their final group game.

Opposition report

Managed by former Shakhtar Donetsk coach and analyst Oleg Starynskyi, Phnom Penh Crown are currently fighting on all fronts when it comes to securing silverware, going in search of an historic treble.

Currently sat second in the Cambodian Premier League, five points off top spot with seven games to play, they’re also in the quarter finals of the Hun Sen Cup and a win over the Mariners would see them face Macarthur FC once again, this time in the ASEAN Zonal Final.

One to watch

With 15 goals to his name in the Cambodian top flight, Japanese striker Shimizu Shintaro is a player in form and someone who could cause the Mariners problems.

Phnom Penh Crown are also the most successful club in Cambodian Premier League history having won eight titles and they’re the current reigning champions.

What happens if both Australian sides win?

The ASEAN Zonal Final will be contested between the winners of Macarthur v Sabah FC and Central Coast Mariners v Phnom Penh Crown – so if both A-Leagues sides win, they would face each other in the next round!

With the draw having already been conducted, the game will be played on February 22 and it will be hosted by either Macarthur or Sabah FC.

If it were to be one of Macarthur or Central Coast Mariners who win the ASEAN Zonal Final then they will then qualify for the Inter Zone Semi-Finals as a ‘champion’ – at which point they will then be drawn against another champion from the Central, South and Eastern zones, which have already been decided.

Taiwanese side Taichung Futuro FC have already been crowned Champions of the East zone, Indian team Odisha FC are the South Zone champions while FC Abdysh-Ata of Kyrgyzstan are the champions of the Central Zone.

These three teams – plus the winner of the ASEAN zone – will then be drawn into two-legged Inter Zone Semi Finals, with the two winners subsequently qualifying for the Inter Zone Final, which is also a two-legged affair.

Finally, the winner of the Inter Zone Final will then qualify for the AFC Cup Final where they will meet the winner of the West Zone final – with the showpiece event scheduled for May 5.



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