Central Coast Mariners hammer Odisha 4-0 in the first leg of the AFC Cup Inter-Zonal Semi-Finals

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Odisha players try to score from a corner kick against Central Coast Mariners

A-League club Central Coast Mariners hammered ISL side Odisha 4-0 in the first leg of their inter-zone play-off semi-finals at the Central Coast Stadium in Gosford on Thursday. Mikael Doka notched a brace while Storm Roux and Ronald Barcellos scored a goal each. 

Central Coast Mariners head coach Mark Jackson made two changes to the side that defeated McArthur in the Zonal Final as Bradley Tapp and Angel Torres replaced Christian Theoharous and Miguel Di Pizio.

Odisha coach Sergio Lobera made only a solitary change to the starting XI from the Juggernauts’ last AFC Cup fixture in December with Isak Vanlalruatfela replacing Jerry Mawihmingthanga.

The A-League club could have taken the lead in the 1st minute itself when Carlos Delgado failed to collect a backpass and Jing Reec capitalized on the error. The Cairo-born striker found himself in a one-on-one position with Amrinder but fired his shot straight onto his body. One minute later, Bradley Tapp passed the ball towards an unmarked Angel Torres inside the box but the latter’s shot whizzed past the frame of the goal. 

The hosts knocked on the doors of Odisha once more in the 12th minute when Jacob Farrell overlapped on the left flank and curled a cross towards the middle. Roux’s shot from the box hit the woodwork as Amrinder was unable to produce a save.

The A-League side’s wait ended in the 36th minute after Odisha defenders failed to align themselves to play an offside trap. Joshua Nisbet made a darting run through the left flank and crossed the ball towards the middle and Mikael Doka buried the ball in the bottom of the net. 

Cy Goodard failed to inspire his teammates against his former employers

Odisha registered their first shot on target in the 39th minute after Diego Mauricio made space for himself and unleashed a shot from close range. However, Danny Vukovic covered his angles properly and thwarted the attempt. Central Coast Mariners went into the tunnel with a 1-0 lead and came out much stronger after the change of sides. 

In the 52nd minute, Roux doubled the Mariners’ lead after playing a set of one-two passes with Josh Nisbet and substitute Ryan Edmondson. The left-back found himself in a one-on-one position with Amrinder and curled his shot into the top corner to double the Mariners’ lead. 

In the 55th minute, Amey Ranawade capitalized on a rebound following the Mariners’ failed clearance but his shot from the box sailed over the crossbar. One minute later, Cy Goddard played a pass to Roy Krishna and the Fijian played a backpass to Puitea. However, the midfielder’s shot from a distance was nowhere close to the frame of the goal. 

In the 76th minute, the pressure got the better of Krishna as he shoved Farrell inside the box despite the latter not being in a dangerous situation. The referee pointed towards the spot and Doka stepped up to chip the ball and bulge the net from the resultant penalty. 

Substitute Theoharous squeezed between Ranawade and Krishna and aimed for glory from a distance in the 86th minute but Amrinder palmed it away.

Doka, who played in the left flank throughout the match, dropped to the right wing in the 89th minute and made a square pass towards Ronald Barcellos in the middle and the Brazilian blasted the ball into the net to put the icing on the cake. 

Odisha was on the back foot throughout the match as they registered only one shot on target against Central Coast Mariners’ six shots on target. They will have to bounce back stronger when they host their Australian opponents next Thursday. No Indian club has managed to go past the inter-zonal playoff semi-finals of the AFC Cup since 2017 and it looks like the trend will continue.