Proud Arnold praises his players

22 March 2012 13:07:28 EST

Graham Arnold lavished praise on his players after Central Coast recovered from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Nagoya Grampus in the AFC Champions League.

The Mariners coach raised a few eyebrows when he selected a youthful starting eleven for the match but his decision seemed to be the correct one as the midfield duo of Tomas Rogic and Mustafa Amini were among the best performers on the night.

I cannot be more proud of my players.

Graham Arnold

Central Coast are scheduled to face Wellington on Saturday. The Mariners are 7/5 to win, with the Phoenix 15/8 and the draw 12/5.

The Mariners weren't able to achieve what would have been their first win in the ACL, but they were the better side and were unlucky not to claim all three points.

The opening goal of the match was scored against the run of play by Grampus' Markus Tulio Tanaka with a controversial free-kick. But the A-League leaders needed just seven minutes to get back on level terms, thanks to defender Patrick Zwaanswijk's header.

In the post-match interview, an elated Arnold said: "I cannot be more proud of my players. We had four or five kids out there and they were all superb. I thought we played fantastic football. The first half was good but the second half was really good. I felt in the end we had the best chance to win it, I think we shaded it."

However, Nagoya coach Dragan Stojkovic thought his team were the better side, although he was still content with a share of the spoils.

"From a technical point of view I thought we played the better football. But the Mariners didn't give up. Generally speaking, I think a draw was a good result. We came without three regular players. We really tried to do our best to win but a draw away, that's not bad," said Stojkovic.

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