A-League sides set up historic AFC Cup clash

A late hat-trick from Ryan Edmondson to secure a spot in the historic AFC Cup Zonal final was fuelled by Central Coast Mariners' loss to Sydney FC on Saturday. 

The recently signed star forward said the team weren’t going to roll over against Phnom Penh Crown in their Zonal semi on Tuesday after losing their 12-match undefeated streak. 

A stumble in their form made the side focus on restoring their morale so they could put in a solid performance at Industree Group Stadium in Gosford. 

As a result, the English forward said their 4-0 win against the Cambodian challengers was no mistake. 

“We’re a group that likes to prove a point,” Edmondson said. 

“It’s a chance for us to regain and go again.” 

They will now face Macarthur at their home ground in Campbelltown next week - a side that dazzled fans with a great performance of their own on Tuesday. 

The south-west Sydney side defeated Malaysia's Sabah 3-0. Their left-footed forward, Jed Drew, scored two goals in the later part of the game, following an earlier assist for captain Ulises Davila's icebreaker goal. 

Both winning teams left fans waiting for them to bring out the big shots as the international sides put up a convincing fight.

As for the upcoming match, Mariners manager Mark Jackson said that after the challenge of not knowing much about an opponent, Macarthur will be more familiar.

“It will work in our favour that we’ll know a lot about them, but they’ll know a lot about us as well,” Jackson said.

“It will be a really tough test and a tough game.” 

Mariners coach Mark Jackson
Mark Jackson's Mariners will face Macarthur on February 22.

The last time the clubs faced off, in November 2023, Macarthur won 2-1. 

The recent AFC semis table were the first time since 2016 that two A-League sides were both in the finals stage of the AFC Cup, and just the second time in history. 

Now the two Australian sides will make history on February 22.

Before the teams have their showdown next week, Macarthur will face A-League leaders Wellington Phoenix on Sunday, at the same time as the Mariners grapple with the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Mariners boss Jackson insists it's one game at a time, though.

"We'll analyse our opponents and we will get ready for that (Macarthur) game, but we've got a game on Sunday we need to take care of," he said.

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