Club Champion Zenon Caravella believes the atmosphere of the home crowd on Wednesday will have a massive say on the result when the Reds face off against Bunyodkor.
Recently crowned Club Champion Zenon Caravella believes the atmosphere of the home crowd at Hindmarsh Stadium on Wednesday night will have a massive say on the result when the Reds face off against Bunyodkor in a decisive AFC Champions League Group E encounter.
Three points clear atop of Group E, the Reds have the chance to cement a place in the knockout Round of 16 with a win over the reigning Uzbek league title holders.
Bunyodkor-s squad touched down in Adelaide from Tashkent this morning and after the Reds made the long trip to the Uzbek capital back on Match Day 1, Caravella knows how difficult it is to adapt to the varying conditions and time difference in a short space of time.
Asked if it there is much in the travel factor, the 28 year old agrees it does take a toll physically and makes the task that much harder for the visiting team.
“When we travelled over there (to Tashkent) the flights were extremely long, we went from warm days here to cold days there and I think it does play a bit of havoc with your body,” Caravella said.
“Every team has got to do it but it-s hard to travel so when we-re at home it-s always a big advantage.”
The Reds- trip to Tashkent back in March saw them get their ACL campaign off to a dream start as they made the most of a Bunyodkor side that were still in their pre season yet to start their domestic season.
But now almost two months on and it is a different story. Bunyodkor are well entrenched in their season proper and are sure to be a more threatening adversary this time around.
“They-re a good football team,” Caravella said of Bunyodor.
“They pass the ball around quite well, they-ve got some fast players on the wings and there a lot of things that they do well, so we-ve just got to keep our discipline and we-re feeling very confident.”
The Reds have reason to be confident. Wins in their other two home games in the competition so far, the Reds are also yet to concede a goal at home, which is sure to have instilled a strong belief within the squad despite the magnitude of the challenge in front of them.
Bunyodkor shot up to second position in the group after a 3-2 home win over Gamba Osaka in Match Day 4, the result leaving them three points behind the Reds and still well in contention for a top two finish.
The Uzbek club will be well aware that if they can topple the Reds on Wednesday, they then host the Pohang Steelers in the final Match Day of the Group Stage and would fancy their chances of finishing top of Group E.
But while Caravella is expecting an attacking and even better Bunyodkor outfit than the one the Reds defeated 2-1 in Match Day 1, he has no intention of letting the Uzbek club have their own way on United-s home patch, particularly with a parochial pro Adelaide crowd in attendance that Caravella hopes will turn out in their droves.
“They (Bunyodkor) were a good side when we played them over there and we-re expecting them to be an even tougher side again, but we-re at home so I feel we-ve got the advantage,” Caravella said.
“The fans, when they-re here and in full voice - it-s brilliant and I think it-s daunting for any club. The home fans are great, when they-re here and the stadium is packed it-s brilliant.”
Further enhancing the Reds- cause for another positive result at home is that key midfielder Dario Vidosic and striker Sergio van Dijk are both expected to be available after overcoming hamstring injuries. The duo has been training solidly with the main group and both got through 45 minutes in the friendly match against White City last Thursday.
“They have been training well, they look fit and sharp and I-m sure they-re up for selection so it-s just a matter of what Kossie decides to do,” Caravella said on the duo.
Tickets for the match are available through Ticketek.