ACL campaign starts now: Fyfe

Defender Iain Fyfe believes the club’s impressive run in the Group Stage will mean nothing if the Reds cannot get past Nagoya.

Adelaide United defender Iain Fyfe believes the club-s impressive run throughout the AFC Champions League Group Stage will mean nothing if the Reds cannot get past Nagoya Grampus next Tuesday night.

A week out from their crunch Round of 16 clash against Nagoya Grampus at Hindmarsh, Fyfe told of how United-s playing group is carrying the perception that anything less than progression through to the AFC Champions League Quarter Finals would be a wasted opportunity.

This is despite the Reds finishing top in their group, a group which consisted of two previous ACL winners, Gamba Osaka and Pohang Steelers, as well as Uzbek giants Bunyodkor who have now reached the knockout rounds for the fifth straight year.

But regardless of how inspiring United-s results in the Group Stage have been, Fyfe is of the opinion that the competition really only starts now and they are using this perspective as motivation to make sure their Asian journey continues past Tuesday and goes into the Quarter Finals in September.

“We haven-t achieved anything yet,” Fyfe stated.

“Everyone is saying we-re doing so well but if we get knocked out in the next game (against Nagoya) no one is going to remember how we did in a couple of years.”

“We-ve really got an opportunity here to stamp our authority and forget about what-s happened in the last year.”

“We-ve played some really good games in the Asian Champions League but we really need to win this game to push towards something that could be really great.”

The anticipation of a do-or-die battle only enhances what it would mean for the Reds to make it through to the last eight, and Fyfe is not shying away from the tension that will surround Hindmarsh come kick-off.

“I think there will be more pressure. It-s a knockout so you-ve got that extra pressure on you…this game is going to be a little bit more on edge and it will bring out the best in players because I think you-ll see the better players rise to the occasion,” Fyfe said.

“It-s going to be our toughest test no doubt. So far we-ve done great but this is a massive game, so I hope we get a huge crowd at Hindmarsh, that-s really important, and we can push Nagoya as far as we can.”

Adding further attraction to the clash is that Fyfe and co are set to come up against Qantas Socceroos striker Josh Kennedy, who currently plies his trade for Nagoya.

Kennedy has been the J-League-s top goal scorer in the last two seasons as well as being named in the J-League-s Best Eleven during the past two years.

While the 194cm target man only has one goal next to his name in the Group Stage and did not play in Nagoya-s final group match against the Central Coast Mariners, he looms as a serious threat to the Reds.

“He-s a great player,” Fyfe said of Kennedy.

“He-s done it for the national team and he-s been top goal scorer in the J-League for a couple of years now so he-s going to be a handful for our boys…but we can-t concentrate too much on him because he-s got quality around him as well.”

“I saw the game Nagoya played against the Mariners and they-re a very good team, they-re well organised, have some great individual players, and they play collectively extremely well.”

Given his first start of the competition in last Wednesday-s 2-0 win over Gamba Osaka, Fyfe played in an unfamiliar role sitting just in front of the back four, filling the gap left by the injured Osama Malik.

But while he is more renowned as a central defender, Fyfe proved to be anything but a makeshift holding midfielder, the 30 year old doing more than enough to indicate he would be a strong chance of starting there again against Nagoya.