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Mar 5, 2012

Mariners wary of Chinese in Asian soccer

A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners are wary of the speed of Tianjin Teda heading into their opening Asian Champions League (ACL) match in China on Wednesday.

The two clubs also clashed in the group stages of the 2009 ACL, drawing 2-2 in China before Tianjin triumphed 1-0 in Gosford.

Tianjin, who are about to start their domestic campaign, have one Australian in their squad, defender Milan Susak, who joined them from Adelaide United last month.

The temperature during the game is expected to be close to zero, and snow fell during the Mariners' training run at the stadium.

Mariners coach Graham Arnold is adamant he will be looking for a win.

He will be forced into at least one change after fullback Trent Sainsbury didn't travel with the team due to concussion.

Pedj Bojic, who was suspended for last Saturday's A-League match against Sydney is available again, while ACL-only signing Trent McClenahan is another option.

The Mariners have viewed a 15-minute video of their Chinese opponents.

"They basically play with a 4-4-2 system and they've got an Australian player Susak playing there at right-back," Mariners central defender Patrick Zwaanswijk told AAP from China.

"They are all pretty quick in transition so we have to keep an eye on that and they are a team that defend with nine or 10 players behind.

"Their No.10, their captain (Wang Xinxin), is a veteran and he tries to get back in position and doesn't do a lot of defending.

"They try to get back behind the ball. They try to get the ball off you and, as soon as they get the ball, they move forward pretty quick.

"It's a bit of the Japanese style of play where they have all quick players around the ball and try to surprise you."

Mariners' skipper and defender Alex Wilkinson played in China last year during the A-League off-season.

"I think they (Tianjin) have changed their team quite a bit since I was there last year and apparently brought in all new foreigners, so it's going to be a different team," Wilkinson said.

"We played them the last time over in Tianjin in the Champions League so we know the area, we know the stadium, so that's a good thing.

"I think with our structure, we've got a great chance of breaking them down because, at times, they can be quite erratic."

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