Mariners to face Guangzhou R&F in ACL qualifier

Central Coast Mariners will face Guangzhou R&F in the AFC Champions League qualifying play-off on Tuesday, after the Chinese Super League outfit comfortably accounted for the Singapore Warriors 3-0. 

While Friday night’s A-League match against Brisbane Roar remains the immediate focus for the top-six chasers, Phil Moss's men will be keeping one eye on next week's fixture in Gosford.

A win in the qualifier will see the Mariners progress to their fifth ACL campaign where Japan's Gamba Osaka, South Korean side Seongnam FC, and Thai club Buriram United FC lie in wait in Group F.

The Blue Lions of Guangdong present a major challenge for the Mariners having finished third in the 2014 instalment of the Chinese Super League led by former manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

But the home side will be bolstered by a 2-1 win over A-League high flyers, Adelaide United, last Saturday.

Guangzhou’s newly appointed Romanian head coach Cosmin Contra will arrive on the Central Coast with a wealth of playing experience under his belt having played for AC Milan, Atletico Madrid and Getafe.

Contra is hoping to make his mark in Asia’s premier club competition with the 2015 AFC Champions League acting as his first competitive spell with Guangzhou.

The side's roster is made up predominantly of Chinese players but during the offseason Guangzhou R&F recruited Spanish midfielder Michel from Getafe who was on loan to Liga BBVA outfit, Valencia CF.