Four years ago Bruce Djite and the Reds tasted success in Pohang, and the striker believes there is no reason why Adelaide United cannot emulate the result on Tuesday.
Four years ago Bruce Djite and the Reds tasted success at the Pohang Steelyard, and the striker believes there is no reason why Adelaide United cannot emulate the result on Tuesday.
Ask most people what they know of Pohang and there is better than an odds on chance they will shrug their shoulders. Coming into the Group Stage of the 2008 AFC Champions League, the Reds were confronted with a tough first up trip away to K-League giants the Pohang Steelers.
While they competed in the AFC Champions League the previous year, heading to Pohang was foreign territory for the Reds - a place and a team they knew little about. But when the match came around, the Reds appeared to be settle in right at home as Robert Cornthwaite and Djite both found the back of the net to give United a stunning 2-0 win.
According to Djite, that experience, coupled with the fact that the Reds faced Pohang at the Steelyard in the ACL Group Stage again two years later and recorded a nil-all draw, holds United in good stead going into their third match at the ground.
Djite was not part of the Reds- 2010 ACL squad but as he reflected on the fond memories of that night in 2008, the Reds marksman admits he is excited about Tuesday night-s encounter and is keen see history repeat itself.
“I-m certainly looking forward to it. It was a great win on that occasion back in 2008 and I don-t see any reason why we can-t repeat that effort that we put in four years ago and come back with a similar result this time around,” Djite said.
Past history may not mean much when the teams run out on Tuesday, but experience is worth plenty and this is where Djite views the two previous performances in Pohang as something that gives the Reds a notable edge.
“We-ve got the advantage of having been there (to Pohang) two times previously and we know what needs to be done to get the result,” Djite said.
A positive result for the Reds in Pohang would send further shockwaves through Group E as they currently hold a three point gap at the top of the group after winning their opening two matches. This start has given the Reds an ideal foundation to try and progress to the Round of 16. However, with four match days still to be played, Djite says the players are keeping a firm lid on the situation and are certainly not letting any complacency creep in.
“I don-t think so because we-re not even close to qualifying yet and it-s hard to go anywhere and get points,” Djite said on whether there was a trap the Reds could ease off with two wins already in the bank.
“The six points we-ve got has definitely given us a head start and we-re in poll position, but it-s a matter of staying concentrated, keeping our feet on the ground and getting the other four or five points we nee to qualify.”
Rather than look back and be pleased with what they have achieved so far, Djite sees it as a rare and momentous opportunity.
“It-s a massive opportunity! It-s a fantastic competition and we-ve put our best foot forward in the first two games and if we can keep on that uptrend then there-s no reason why we can-t take this opportunity with both hands,” Djite said.
Standing in their way is a Pohang team that suffered just its second ever home loss in the ACL a fortnight ago against Bunyodkor (their other defeat came against the Reds). Djite is fully aware of what the Reds will confront on Tuesday and with the loss to Bunyodkor only certain to make them more determined, it will be another huge test for a United side that is aiming to make it five games unbeaten against Pohang.
“Obviously we-re expecting the quality that they (Pohang) bring. They-ve always had a good reputation and they-ve been in the AFC Champions League multiple times so they-ve got that experience as well,” Djite said.
“I think it is just going to come down to who is the better team on the day because they-ve also had a pretty good start. They showed their quality beating Gamba 3-0 in Osaka, which shows they-ve obviously been working hard on their game as have we, so it-s definitely going to be an interesting match and a great challenge that we-re looking forward to.”