Heading into the Reds' showdown against Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Easter Saturday, Reds Coach Michael Valkanis has put his players on notice.
Heading into Adelaide United-s final round showdown against Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Easter Saturday, Reds Coach Michael Valkanis has put his players on notice and presented them with an opportunity to ‘put up their hand- for a spot in the club-s home Elimination Final.
In what is the Reds- last game before facing a Week 1 Elimination Final at Hindmarsh Stadium on April 7, Valkanis has sounded a strong and clear warning to his charges that the match against Perth will go a long way to proving who really wants to play in the finals.
“We-ll slowly have everyone back next week, everyone 100 per cent and ready to go, but in saying that some players have got an opportunity this week to put up their hand and stake a claim for a spot in the final,” Valkanis said.
“I-d like everyone who has been given an opportunity to be putting up their hand and saying they want to be playing in the final.”
“We-ve got good depth and some of them are very hungry to get this opportunity.”
“Coming to the finals there is no first choice, there are positions up for grabs, there is competition and that-s how we-d like it.”
Valkanis- challenge for players to stake their claim carries added motivation with the fact he has opted to leave Argentinean playmaker Marcelo Carrusca, gun left back Cassio and striker Tomi Juric out of the travelling party to face the Glory to ensure they are fully fit to be considered for the cutthroat final.
Carrusca has recently overcome a groin problem, while Cassio is carrying some quad soreness, and Juric has had a heavy workload since arriving from Croatia last month.
“With Carrusca we didn-t want to take any risks at all - we want him to be 100 per cent,” Valkanis said.
“He trained all week and was very close to coming but we decided to leave him here…him and Cassio both wanted to come.”
“They could play but I don-t think you would want to come away from this game not being able to field Cassio or Carrusca next week…so even if there-s a ten per cent risk we won-t take that.”
“Tomi has come to us and done quite a lot in the last six weeks and he seems a little bit flat mentally and physically…and I think he just needs a bit of a rest and he-ll be ready to put up his hand next week.”
The Glory will also be without a number of their key personnel, with Shane Smeltz, Travis Dodd, Liam Miller and Chris Harold all to miss the game, although like the Reds who will gain captain Eugene Galekovic from Socceroos duty, Perth will also have their skipper Jacob Burns back after suspension.
With the Reds already knowing a home final is guaranteed, there is undoubtedly much more riding on tomorrow-s result for Perth. After Brisbane Roar defeated Sydney FC last night to book their spot in the final, the Glory will know come kick-off whether they will need a win or a draw to catapult them into the top six.
But regardless of the permutations going on around them, Valkanis says the Reds must treat tomorrow-s game like a final and that he is looking for vast improvement on last Sunday-s defeat to at the hands of the Central Coat Mariners.
“Looking at the game last night (between Brisbane and Sydney) it was pretty intense and a real finals game, and we-re expecting the same from Perth and we-re expecting our boys to go into the game with the same intent to get the three points,” Valkanis said.
“The mood has been good and the work has been good during the week but in previous weeks it has been the same, so sometimes we-ve been sitting in idle mode and have been just a little bit comfortable…we have to change that from the very first minute - we have to be ready to play a finals game.”
A win in front an expected near capacity nib Stadium would see the Reds climb to third on the ladder and heap pressure on Melbourne Victory, who currently occupy third spot, to beat the Wellington Phoenix in the final match of the Hyundai A-League minor round on Sunday.
Valkanis reinforced that although both third and fourth host a home Elimination Final, finishing third was still a more than significant incentive.
“Firstly professional sportsmen would always want to finish as high as possible on the ladder and I wouldn-t like it any other way, if you-re in a professional environment that-s what you strive for,” Valkanis said.
“Secondly, if there is a chance of an Asian Champions League spot in the future we-d like to have that opportunity.”
Kick-Off is at 9.15pm ACDT.
Hyundai A-League 2012/13 Season - Week 27 PERTH GLORY v ADELAIDE UNITED FC Saturday 30 March 2013, nib Stadium Kick-Off: 6.45pm local (9.15pm ACDT) Referee: Kris-Griffiths Jones
TV: LIVE & Exclusive on Fox Sports 1 Radio: Online and on the ABC Smartphone App Twitter: https://twitter.com/adelutd_fc (hash tag #PGvREDS)
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene Galekovic (c), 2.Osama Malik, 4.Jon McKain, 5.Iain Fyfe, 10.Dario Vidosic, 11.Bruce Djite, 12.Antony Golec, 14.Cameron Watson, 17.Iain Ramsay, 18.Fabian Barbiero, 19.Jake Barker-Daish, 20.Paul Izzo (gk), 21.Jeronimo Neumann, 22.Fabio Ferreira, 24.Awer Mabil
In: Eugene Galekovic (gk) (returns from international duty), Osama Malik (returns from injury), Antony Golec (promoted), Awer Mabil (promoted) Out: Nigel Boogaard (suspended - 1 match), Cassio (quad soreness - 1 week), Tomi Juric (omitted), John Hall (gk) (omitted) Unavailable: Marcelo Carrusca (groin - 1 week), Evan Kostopoulos (ankle - 1 week)
Perth Glory squad: 1.Danny Vukovic (gk), 2.Jack Clisby, 5.Steve Pantelidis, 6.Nick Ward, 7.Jacob Burns, 8.Dean Heffernan, 11.Adrian Zahra, 12.Ryo Nagai, 14.Steven McGarry, 15.Brandon O-Neill, 16.Evan Berger, 18.Matias Cordoba, 19.Josh Risdon, 21.Scott Jamison, 23.Michael Thwaite, 22.Ndumba Makeche, 24.Storm Roux, 26.Riley Woodcock, 27.Matthew Davies, 28.Daniel De Silva, 30 Lewis Italiano (gk) *Six to be omitted
In: Jacob Burns (returns from suspension), Brandon O-Neill, Evan Berger, Ndumba Makeche, Michael Thwaite (returns from international duty), Storm Roux, Riley Woodcock, Matthew Davies, Daniel De Silva Out: Liam Miller (suspended - 1 game), Travis Dodd (knee - TBA), Chris Harold (calf - 3-4 weeks) Unavailable: Shane Smeltz (stitches - 1 week)
Adelaide United vs. Perth Glory - Hyundai A-League HEAD TO HEAD Record Played 23 - 11 wins, 4 draws, 8 losses
At nib Stadium Played 9; Adelaide United 3, Perth Glory 4, Draws 2
Last time they met in the Hyundai A-League 11-Jan-2013 Week 16, Hyundai A-League 2012/13 Season at Hindmarsh Stadium Adelaide United FC 3 (Neumann 29-/37-, Ramsay 46-) Perth Glory 2 (Smeltz 90- (pen), McGarry 90+3-)