|By SHAM MAJID
Central Coast coach Graham Arnold is looking forward to pitting his wits against Marcello Lippi after the Mariner were drawn to face Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League.
Evergrande, guided by former Italian World-Cup winning manager Lippi, earned a 0-0 home draw against Jeonbuk Motors on Wednesday to secure top spot in Group F and will now travel to Gosford for their May 15 first-leg clash against the Mariners.
"Marcello Lippi is one of the world's truly great football figures and it's unquestionable he will be the most famous person ever to coach a team on the Central Coast," Arnold said via club statement.
"But while we will show Marcello Lippi and Guangzhou all the respect they deserve, we will not fear them. We have a two week preparation heading into the game and our full focus will be on achieving a positive first-leg result to take to China. We will begin the process of analysing Evergrande immediately.
"Our club will take enormous pride in hosting Marcello Lippi and the Evergrande team, and the match promises to be a great occasion for all Australian football fans."
Arnold served as an assistant to Guus Hiddink with Lippi in the opposite end of the technical area when the Australia suffered a last-gasp 1-0 defeat to Italy during their 2006 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 encounter in Kaiserslautern.
Lippi went on to mastermind the Azzurri's fourth World Cup crown after they defeated France on penalty kicks during the 2006 FIFA World Cup final in Berlin.