|By HAMISH NEAL
Graham Arnold has called on Australia coach Holger Osieck to help Central Coast prepare for the next phase of the AFC Champions League after reaching the last 16 for the first time in their history.
Despite suffering a 3-0 home defeat to J-League side Kashiwa Reysol on Tuesday, the Mariners edged through after other results in the group went in their favour.
The A-League champions will likely face Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande or K-League outfit Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of Group F in a two-legged tie starting on May 15.
With the Australia-based Socceroos traveling to Gosford next week for a camp ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifiers, Arnold sees the situation as a perfect fit for both teams.
"I’ll have to maybe ask a favour off Football Federation Australia," he said.
"The Socceroos are in camp next week and we need a game.
"It'd be great if we could play the home-based Socceroos in a friendly game next Thursday just to keep us fit."
Arnold has been looking to find a fixture before their upcoming Champions League tie on May 15 in order to keep his side match-fit, and sees the opportunity to face the Socceroos as a possibility.
"I had a brief discussion with Gary Moretti [Socceroos team manager]," he said.
"They need a game, the Under-20s need a game, we can accommodate both teams.
"If they'll help us, that'll be fantastic."
On the match against Reysol, Arnold accepted the blame for the tactical changes made once the away side took the lead on the hour mark.
"I take responsibility from 1-0 on because I thought the first 60 minutes we were real good value," he said.
"I felt we did very well, Daniel McBreen's had the one cleared off the line and whether that was a penalty with Pedj [Bojic], I don't know.
"When they got the goal against the run of play we went man on man over the whole park, we tried to press high and that gave them more space.
"When you give quality players more space they hurt you but we had to go for it and we couldn't rely on the other result.
"We had to try and get it back and win the game ourselves.
“We opened up, we gave too much space and we played into their hands," he said.
In the midst of the loss, however, Arnold continued to look at the positives.
"We've got to thank Suwon but the result last week was the result that got us into the last 16," he said."It's a wonderful history-making moment."