Marco Kurz believes tomorrow’s crucial clash with Wellington Phoenix at Coopers Stadium is essentially a must win game for the Reds to maintain their quest for a home final.
The Reds snapped a run of five matches without a win following a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Central Coast Mariners last round, but know they must improve to topple a high-flying Wellington outfit.
Adding another layer to this crucial clash is the fact Adelaide trail the fourth-placed Phoenix by three points in the standings.
Consequently, a win would draw them level on points, enhancing their chances of securing a home final with three regular season matches remaining.
However, Kurz is well aware of Wellington’s quality with Mark Rudan’s side triumphant in their last three matches, most recently dismantling Newcastle Jets 4-1.
The German said his squad cannot afford to lose, knowing a defeat will see them trail further behind.
“I think two things are important for tomorrow,” Kurz explained in the pre-match press conference.
“Firstly, we need points to reach the finals, it’s very important.
“But also to have a chance to reach the finals with a home final and I think we’ve to beat Wellington at home.
“We cannot lose because if they win tomorrow they’re six points (clear) plus with a better goal difference, and I think the race (for fourth spot) is probably done.
“But we feel comfortable, we’ve played two times against them (this season), we won away in Wellington and the home game was really good from our side.”
But Kurz praised the Phoenix’s current form, having scored 15 goals in their preceding three games.
“We know they’re really good in shape,” he explained.
“We must defend very well and must play very serious because they’ll wait for a simple mistake to create a good counter-attack.
“And at the moment they only need maybe one chance to score a goal, we know what we’ve to do but we’ve to show it in the game.”
The former Schalke 04 defender stopped short of confirming who would fill the void left by the injured Ryan Strain, though intimated Ryan Kitto was the likely candidate.
During the match against the Mariners, Kitto shifted to left-back once Strain was substituted, while Scott Galloway moved over to the right flank.
“(Ryan) Kitto I think can play that position and maybe it’s the best decision that he starts there again at left full-back,” he revealed.
“It’s not a secret he’s played in the past also a couple of games in that position in the cup last season.
“He can do this for sure and also with Kitto’s speed it’s very good for us if we’ve two fast players on the one side.”
Adelaide United host Wellington Phoenix in Round 24 of the Hyundai A-League 2018/19 season on Sunday, 7 April at Coopers Stadium. Kick-off is at 4.30pm ACDT. Gates open 3.30pm.