They may have been outplayed by Kashiwa Reysol, but the Central Coast Mariners - having nonetheless won a place in the knockout stages - impressed the Japanese club's coach
|By HAMISH NEAL
Kashiwa Reysol coach Nelsinho Baptista has lauded Central Coast's spirit following his team's 3-0 win over the Mariners on Tuesday.
The result in Gosford - keeping Kashiwa unbeaten in the ACL - was in stark contrast to Reysol's current domestic campaign, where they lie 11th in the J-League.
Nelsinho said his men faced a well-drilled Mariners outfit, and singled out New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey as the "standout player".
"The whole Mariners team was quite tight in defence," he said through an interpreter after Tuesday's match.
"They played very well, particularly McGlinchey, who was the standout player and definitely a playmaker.
"During the first half we tried and tried but we were shut down by the Mariners."
After numerous chances for Central Coast, the visitors scored against the run of play on the hour mark, and Nelsinho was pleased with his side's efforts from that point.
"It wasn't until the second half that was more of a turning point," he said.
"More than ever the result reflects on the players of Kashiwa Reysol and their ability to keep preserving.
"We felt that we could get the win."
Nelsinho dismissed the suggestion the result reflected a gulf in class between the two competitions,
"The Mariners are a good side and if we meet again it will definitely be a tight game," he said.
"I don’t like to judge teams on single games, the Mariners are still a good side [despite the result]."
After topping group H, Kashiwa could be set to meet Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande, K-League outfit Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors or fellow J-League opponents Urawa Red Diamonds in their Round of 16 tie.
Nelsinho was confident when looking ahead to the next phase of the tournament.
"We are going to pursue our goal of trying to win and we are going to continue to focus on our training and we will see what happens," he said.
Like the Mariners, Kashiwa will await the results of Wednesday's ACL matches in China and Thailand to find out who they will meet in the knockout phases.