|By SHAM MAJID
Central Coast Mariners marksman Daniel McBreen is relishing the visit of Marcello Lippi's Guangzhou Evergrande side to Bluetongue Stadium next Wednesday in the first-leg of their AFC Champions League Round-of-16 clash.
The Mariners, who finished second in Group H of the ACL, were drawn to face cashed-up Chinese Super League outfit Evergrande in the knockout-stages of Asia's most prestigious club competition.
Evergrande are coached by 2006 Italian World Cup winning-manager Lippi.
"We are all pumped and we’re really looking forward to it," McBreen said.
"It's a huge achievement to get to the last 16. It was something we set as a goal at the start of the season, and for us to be there now and have the opportunity in a home and away leg to make the final eight is unbelievable."
A-League golden boot winner McBreen has urged the Mariners to gain a foothold in their own backyard before his side travels to Guangzhou's Tianhe Stadium for the second-leg on May 22.
"We have such a good record at home and we need to take advantage of that so that we have something to try and hold onto when we are away," McBreen said.
"Guangzhou will obviously be a different prospect at their home ground, so we definitely need to try and get the points on the board in this first game."
"I'm hoping a lot of football fans regardless of who they support get behind us and treat it somewhat as an international - it's Australia versus China. It would be good to see a lot of people come out and make it a great atmosphere."
Meanwhile, the Mariners have clarified reports regarding the future of foundation head coach Lawrie McKinna.
McKinna will act as the club's first official ambassador, while also continuing to preside over several football operation duties.
"Lawrie is well known in Central Coast and Australian football circles and as part of our current restructure it's true that a few of Lawrie's football operations commitments will be absorbed by other staff," Mariners chairman and group general manager Peter Turnbull said.
"However his input, energy and experience from a football perspective will naturally remain highly valued."
Elsewhere, Western Sydney Wanderers have signed attacker Tahj Minniecon to a new one-year deal, tying him to the club until the end of the 2013-14 A-League season.