Suspended captain John Hutchinson has described the win by his Central Coast Mariners over Suwon Bluewings in the AFC Champions League as a pivotal moment in Australian football.
Hutchinson told The World Game he watched Tuesday night's game in the lounge room of his Terrigal home with fellow suspended Mariners player Brent Griffiths and a group of friends.
"We're the smallest club in Australia, which makes us a tiny club in Asia, and the boys have gone to Korea and beaten one of the biggest clubs in Asia to go to second place in the group," Hutchinson said. "I couldn't be more proud of them - it's a fantastic achievement.
"It's a pivotal result for football here. It's one of the great results for the game in this country. The Mariners are representing the A-League, and now we're in with a big chance of progressing beyond the group stage, which would be the first time for this club if it happens.
"I messaged 'Arnie' (Mariners coach Graham Arnold) and the boys after the game last night. I wanted to let them know how proud I was of what they had done. They were buzzing about the result, they were on a real high."
Hutchinson said he had been bursting with excitement during the match, particularly at the key time when substitute Michael McGlinchey scored the only goal of the game, in the 80th minute.
"It was a magnificent performance by the boys," he said. "I wasn't expecting them to play as well as they did, considering we played the grand final on Sunday and they then had to fly to Korea and didn't get there until late on Monday night.
"I've never shouted so much at the TV in my life. Brent Griffiths came over to watch, and we had some other mates with us. We were screaming at the TV. We were all standing up for the last 10 or 15 minutes, willing the boys on. We were too excited to sit down.
"It was a great ball by Oli Bozanic that put Michael McGlinchey on the way to goal, and his finish was great. The Mariners have gone over there with so much against them, and they've kept the team that is second in the K-League scoreless at home.
"Suwon Bluewings are a big team, with a big budget, but we beat them, which is tremendous. Now, we've got to back it up by making sure we do well enough in our last group game to make it through to the next stage."
The Mariners will play their final group game against the leader of the group, Japanese team Kashiwa Reysol, at Bluetongue Stadium on Tuesday.
Hutchinson said the key to the win was the attitude of the Mariners players after they won the A-League grand final against Western Sydney Wanderers in Sydney.
"After the grand final, we had the mums and dads and wives and kids in the dressing-room, which was a really nice touch," he said. "Then we went back to the team hotel. We had a couple of drinks, but most of the boys were in bed by 11pm. We had to check out of the hotel early on Monday.
"The boys must have been fatigued over there in Korea, but they were on a high from the grand final and the fact they looked after themselves after Sunday's game has proved enormous. It's been a massive effort by the team and the coaching staff.
"I can't believe what they've done over there - it's fabulous."
Hutchinson said the Mariners weren't upset at not being able to properly celebrate their grand final win before heading off for the ACL game.
"There's plenty of time for celebrations down the track," he said. "One of our main goals before the season started was to advance from the group stage of the ACL, and now we've got the chance to do that.
"We've got a great record at home, and we'll be playing to win that game next Tuesday. The boys fly back in on Thursday, and we go back to training on Saturday. I'm really looking forward to linking up with them again for this game."
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