Late goal costs Mariners victory in Kyrgyzstan

Central Coast Mariners conceded a stoppage-time goal to be forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their AFC Cup inter-zonal final against Kyrgyzstan club Abdysh-Ata Kant.

The Mariners seemed headed for victory when defender Brian Kaltak gave them the lead in the 81st minute of Wednesday night’s battle at Dolen Omurzakov Stadium in Bishkek.

However, midfielder Magamed Uzdenov’s late goal ensured the teams will be on level terms heading into next Wednesday’s second leg in Gosford.

The aggregate winner will meet either Lebanese outfit Al-Ahed or Oman club Al-Nahda in the AFC Cup final on May 5.

Al-Ahed lead Al-Nahda 1-0 after the first leg of their zonal final.

The Mariners will now switch their focus to their A-League premiership bid, which continues on Sunday when they host Adelaide United.

Wellington Phoenix can, at least temporarily, move three points clear at the top of the A-League ladder by beating the Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday night.

With the premiership up for grabs with just two rounds of the regular season remaining, Phoenix coach Giancarlo Italiano was hopeful the Mariners would be feeling the effects of their busy schedule and their trip home from Kyrgyzstan.

“It’s good for the A-League when teams do well in these cups,” Italiano said.

“From the A-League point of view, I wish them (the Mariners) all the best in winning the Cup. It would be very good, but I hope the opposition has tired them out significantly.”