The message coming out of Tashkent from Adelaide United FC’s squad on the eve of its AFC Champions League Quarter Final 2nd Leg clash against Bunyodkor is that a spot in the semi finals is very much achievable.
The message coming out of Tashkent from Adelaide United FC-s squad on the eve of its AFC Champions League Quarter Final 2nd Leg clash against Bunyodkor is that a spot in the semi finals is very much achievable.
Entering the decisive leg of the tie with a 2-2 result at Hindmarsh Stadium a fortnight ago, the Reds have the mission in front of them knowing that a win would send them into the last four of the competition.
The Reds will square off against Bunyodkor for the sixth time and the third time in the Uzbek capital, this a remarkable stat in itself considering the vast geographical distance between the where the two clubs are based on the globe.
Adelaide United captain Eugene Galekovic has played in all five of the previous meetings and his past experiences in the AFC Champions League, not only against Bunyodkor, reinforces the case that the cause is definitely not lost.
The Reds take confidence in that they had their Uzbek opponents on the ropes in the 1st Leg until being reduced to ten men, while they also tasted success in Tashkent back in March, which strongly has Galekovic and his team mates believing that it is definitely not a foregone conclusion that Bunyodkor are a shoe in to progress.
“Hopefully the way we played in the first 35 minutes of the 1st Leg, we can do that for a longer period of time with 11 players on the pitch, and if we do that I think we-re a great chance of progressing because it was some fantastic football and if we can do that for 70-80 minutes and keep them out, I think we-re a good chance,” Galekovic said.
“We-re always the underdogs and it-s pretty much us against everyone else. No one generally gives us a chance and it-s just great to prove people wrong and this is no different. Not many people are giving us a chance, with two away goals Bunyodkor are obviously in the box seat, but we-ve always thrived in these situations and hopefully Wednesday night will be no different.”
“From the moment we drew 2-2, obviously the boys were disappointed but we knew straight away that we could come here and win. If we can keep 11 players on the park, we proved in the first half that we can beat them and score goals. But it-s about staying disciplined and compact and if we do that we shouldn-t have a problem.”
The mood among the Reds camp leading up to the game has not been dissimilar to that of the 1st Leg, a quiet confidence and buoyancy breeding throughout the squad. Not even some suspected spies checking out the Reds- training from an adjacent stadium seemed to dent it.
From the history between the clubs, Galekovic stated United has a deep respect for their opponents, but the Reds hold no fear playing in territory that is no longer completely foreign.
“For the last two weeks the boys have been great and we-re just looking forward to this game,” Galekovic said.
“We-ve come here to get as result and get to the next stage.”
“As a team we respect Bunyodkor. They-ve got some very good players, they-re very quick on the counter attack, but as a team we-re confident that we can win the game.”
United-s registered ACL Head Coach Michael Valkanis shares Galekovic-s optimism and says the Reds are in Tashkent determined to be in front when it counts.
“I-m sure tomorrow will be a very tough game and a game both sides want to win, a game that we definitely want to win,” Valkanis said.
“Conceding two goals in the 1st leg makes it harder but it also makes it very clear what our objective is - and that is to win…so regardless of whether we-re playing at home or playing away, we know we have to win and we-ve been here twice already and we-re getting used to travelling here.”
Defender Jon McKain, who was in doubt in the week leading up to the game with a knee problem, trained well during the Reds- one hour familiarisation session and appears a definite starter alongside Iain Fyfe in the centre of the back four.
A full house is expected at Jar Stadium for the match, pitting the Reds against not only the eleven Bunyodkor players on the field but the noise and parochialism of a capacity 9,000 strong crowd. While it sounds like a daunting prospect, Galekovic is not perturbed.
“A lot of the boys know what to expect…we only played them six months ago,” Galekovic said.
“Obviously it-s a totally different ball game with it being a quarter final and a do-or-die game, so it-s going to be a lot more hostile, a lot louder and with a lot more people, but there are a lot of boys who have played in big leagues and been put under that pressure, so we just can-t wait for tomorrow night.”
Kick-Off is at 11.30pm ACST.
AFC Champions League 2012 - Quarter Final 2nd Leg BUNYODKOR (Uzbekistan) v ADELAIDE UNITED FC (Australia) Wednesday 3 October 2012, Jar Stadium Kick-Off: 7.00pm local time (11.30pm ACST) Referee: Ali Hasan Ebrahim Abdulnabi Alsamaheeji (Bahrain)
Adelaide United FC squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 2.Osama MALIK, 4.Jon McKAIN, 6.CASSIO, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10.Dario VIDOSIC, 11.Bruce DJITE, 12.Antony GOLEC, 14.Cameron WATSON, 16.Daniel BOWLES, 17.Iain RAMSAY, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 19.Jake BARKER-DAISH, 21.Jeronimo NEUMANN, 22.Iain FYFE, 23.Evan KOSTOPOULOS, 30.Paul IZZO (gk)
Bunyodkor squad: 1.Ignatiy NESTEROV (gk), 2.Akmal SHORAKHMEDOV, 4.Hayrulla KARIMOV, 6.Anvar GAFUROV, 8.Jovlon IBROKHIMOV, 9.Ilkhom SHOMURODOV, 10.Shavkat SALOMOV, 13.Lutfulla TURAEV, 14.Alibobo RAKHMATULLAEV, 16.Artyom FILIPOSYAN, 17.Kamoliddin MURZOEV, 18.Slavoljub DJORDJEVIC, 19.Jasur KHASANOV, 20.Anvarjon SOLIEV, 22.Victor KARPENKO (c), 23.Sakhob JURAEV, 24.Bahodir PARDAEV, 28.Ruslan MELZIDDINOV, 33.Jan KOZAK, 45.Akbar TURAEV (gk)