Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Adelaide United are eager to take the next step towards wrapping up qualification for the second round of the Asian Champions League when they meet Uzbekistan champions Bunyodkor at Hindmarsh Stadium on Wednesday night.
Adelaide sit atop Group E with a three-point advantage over Bunyodkor in second and need a win in either of their last two games to assure qualification to the next round while four points would clinch top spot.
The Reds warm as favourites having knocked off the reigning Uzbekistan premiers 2-1 in Tashkent's freezing conditions in the opening group match.
Although a draw may be enough for the hosts, Adelaide stand-in coach Luciano Trani wanted the win.
The Reds assistant, tasked with handling the team in the Asian tournament while regular coach John Kosmina still awaits his coaching licence, said a win would go a long way to claiming first and ultimately home advantage in the knockout stage.
"We must go for the win because a win will obviously confirm our spot in the top two and more importantly possibly give us top spot," Trani said.
"Top spot would see us play home again in the second round which is a huge advantage.
"We want to take advantage of this home game ... and the players will obviously be encouraged with good support from the fans to take Bunyodkor on and get across the line."
With the A-League completed, Adelaide have had to wait at least two weeks between ACL clashes while their Asian counterparts are well underway in their respective league campaigns.
The lack of match preparation has consigned the Reds to organising friendly fixtures with South Australia's local sides.
Although local opposition is in stark contrast to the illustrious teams of Asia, Trani said the Reds had no trouble maintaining match sharpness and motivation.
"The confidence of knowing that we want to be the first Australian team to qualify for the Asian Championship (this year) is the extra motivation to drive them through, especially during those tough times," Trani said.
United captain and goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic shared Trani's sentiments, suggesting the fire and will to succeed was still there.
"It's not too difficult (to get motivated) ... all the players are looking forward to it (Bunyodkor clash) because we don't get many games everywhere week," Galekovic said.
"Our confidence has built up nicely after a few good results and we've put ourselves in a position where we know if we can win we'll most likely get a group of 16 game at home, so our aim is to win the game, get top spot and go from there.
"The first game with them might have been a bit touch and go because no one wants to drop points, but this game will be totally different.
"They need to win and we want to win too, so it's going to be end-to-end soccer."
The keeper also said possible late season success in the tournament would act as redemption for one of the club's worst domestic seasons in history.
"We were disappointed and frustrated during the season and our ACL form makes up for it a little bit," Galekvoic said.
"A bit of success in the season always helps and we want to finish on a good note."
Bunyodkor coach Mirjalol Qosimov praised Adelaide but was confident his side could snatch victory.
"It doesn’t matter where they play, home or away, Adelaide has very good organisation and discipline and we will see a very interesting game," Qosimov said.
"It's been a long trip to Australia but we come here to win and take three points, not just to play."
Adelaide marquee star Dario Vidosic is expected to make his long-awaited return from injury, although his role is yet to be determined, while Dutch target man Sergio van Dijk is also available.