Al-Ahed vs Central Coast Mariners Prediction: Aussies to claim glory in AFC Cup final

 | 4th May | 

4 mins read

Central Coast Mariners are bidding to become the first Australian winners of the AFC Cup this Sunday (KO, 17:00) as they take on Lebanese side Al-Ahed in the competition's final at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat, Oman.

Read below for my Al-Ahed vs Central Coast Mariners prediction as the sides battle it out in Asian football's second-tier continental club competition.

Al-Ahed vs Central Coast Mariners Betting Tips

  • First half total goals - Under 0.5 @ 13/8
  • Correct score - Central Coast Mariners to win 1-0 @ 11/2

Al-Ahed's route to the final has been a bit different to their opponents, with Palestinian side Jalal Al-Mukabet withdrawing from the competition after two games to leave just three teams in Group A.

The Yellow Castle finished second - behind Oman outfit Al-Nahda - to secure a wildcard in the West Asian zonal semis, where they beat Al-Kahraba on penalties in Iraq after the pair exchanged 1-0 wins. Al-Ahed then faced a rematch with Al-Nahda and managed to exact revenge on their Group A rivals, beating them 1-0 in their 'home' leg in Karbala, Iraq before drawing 2-2 at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, the venue for Sunday's final.

Al-Ahed are currently second in the Lebanon Premier League, which they have won back-to-back in the last two seasons, and have lost just once in their last nine games across all competitions.

Central Coast Mariners arrive into Sunday's final on a high themselves after securing the Australian A-League Men's Premiership with a 2-0 victory over Adelaide United on Wednesday.

The Mariners have lost just once in their last 16 games in all competitions and are eyeing a historic treble.

CCM topped a group containing Terengganu, Bali United and Stallion, losing just once before beating Thai side Phnom Penh Crown 4-0 in their zonal semi to set up a final with A-League rivals Macarthur FC, whom they edged out 3-2 after extra time in Sydney.

Mike Jackon's side subsequently made light work of Odisha in the inter-zone semi-finals, winning 4-0 at home before playing out a goalless draw in India.

A long journey to Kyrgyzstan followed as the Mariners drew 1-1 with Abdish-Ata in the first leg before triumphing 3-0 in Gosford to advance to the AFC Cup final against Al-Ahed.

Team News

Scottish striker Lee Erwin was the hero in the semi-finals for Al-Ahed as he bagged a brace off the bench against Al-Nahda, and he will surely be looking to earn a start on Sunday.

Other players to look out for include Lebanese midfielder Walid Shour and Syrian forward Mohammed Al Hallak.

The Mariners have named an unchanged XI for the past three games and could make it a fourth on Sunday given the success they have enjoyed in recent weeks.

That means the likes of Ryan Edmondson, Harrison Steele and Ronald Barcellos will likely have to settle for a place on the bench.

The Australian outfit, meanwhile, continue to be without star winger Angelo Torres, who has been handed an interim suspension after being charged on sexual assault charges.

Match Odds

Al-Ahed are 11/5 to win Sunday's match inside regulation time, giving them an implied win probability of 31.3%, while the Mariners are 11/10 favourites - or a 47.6% chance - to take care of business inside 90 minutes.

The draw, which would send the tie to extra time, can be backed at 21/10, and both teams to score is 5/6.

First half total goals - Under 0.5 @ 13/8

Three of Al-Ahed's four group games in the competition saw a goalless first half, and three of their four knockout stage matches also saw no goals scored in the opening 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, there were no goals in the first half of either leg as CCM knocked out Abdish-Ata in the semis, so it's probably safe to assume that we could be in for a cagey start on Sunday.

Neither side will want to completely show their hand, and though they are favourites to win, the Mariners could have some weary legs in their ranks after playing such a pivotal game in midweek.

First half total goals - Under 0.5 in Al-Ahed vs Central Coast Mariners at 13-8

Correct score - Central Coast Mariners to win 1-0 @ 11/2

I'm not expecting many goals across the whole 90 minutes in Muscat, but I'm backing the Australians to edge the contest and bring the cup back home to Gosford.

It's been a sensational season for the Mariners, who have built upon the success of last season's Grand Finals triumph despite losing key stars like Jason Cummings and Marco Tulio.

A historic treble is in sight, and there have been few signs that Jackon's side are likely to lose their head in the face of rising expectations.

Al Ahed deserve enormous credit for getting to this stage and do have history in this competition as one-time winners.

However, CCM's superior quality should shine through on Sunday, with ex-Leeds United forward Edmondson potentially playing a key role from the bench.

Correct score - Central Coast Mariners 1-0 vs Al-Ahed at 11-2

Check out the rest of our Football Betting Tips here.

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