I’d love to face Mariners: Boogaard

Newly re-signed Reds defender Nigel Boogaard is excited by the possibility of confronting his former club in the Round of 16.

Newly re-signed Reds defender Nigel Boogaard is excited by the prospect of possibly confronting his former club, the Central Coast Mariners, in the AFC Champions League Round of 16.

With Group E and Group G coupled together for the Round of 16, come the conclusion of the Group Stage, there is a chance the stars could align and pit Adelaide United against their Hyundai A-League counterparts from Gosford in the one-off knockout clash of the prestigious Asian club competition.

The Reds, who have already guaranteed themselves a place in the Round of 16, will be out to lock down top spot and a subsequent hoe game in the last 16 when they tackle Gamba Osaka in Japan in the final match day.

For the Mariners, they currently sit third in a tightly congested Group G just a point behind Nagoya and Seongnam and must get a favourable result away against Nagoya to lift themselves into the top two and progress through.

While much depends on the results from the finals games of the Group Stage and a lot needs to go right, if Adelaide United tops Group E and the Central Coast finish second in Group G, the Reds would meet the Mariners at Hindmarsh Stadium in the Round of 16.

This is a scenario Boogaard, who spent four years at the Mariners, on one hand would love to see eventuate, but at the same time there is also a part of him that can see a positive of two Australian teams not playing against each other.

“I-d love to face the Mariners here and put one over them,” Boogaard said.

“Obviously my former club, it-d be great to knock them out but in saying that, I think the further that two Australian teams can go, it can prove how strong the A-League is at the moment and how far it has come.”

“I think compared to the other Asian leagues we-re probably not held in as high esteem as they are and I think we can prove if two (clubs) go further than the Round of 16, that we are a force.”

As enticing as a Reds v Mariners clash in the ACL sounds, when it comes down to it, Boogaard is not too concerned which team they face.

“At the end of the day it doesn-t really bother us (who we play),” Boogaard said.

“I think in all of these games so far we haven-t focused too much on the opposition, I think the biggest key for us is concentrating on what we do and if we do that and go in with the right attitude and the right game plan, we can give any team a shake and I think we-ve proved that so far.”

Instead, Boogaard-s priority is on ensuring the match will be held in Adelaide regardless of who they come up against.

“As it has shown, teams that come here have struggled and we feel a lot more comfortable playing at home…that home ground advantage is massive,” Boogaard said.

“The comfortable surroundings and having the 12th man in the crowd, I-m sure if we do get that home Round of 16 game this place will be full and will help us to get over the line.”

The Reds can make sure of a home Round of 16 clash by defeating an out of sorts Gamba Osaka on May 16. The highly reputable J-League club have had a highly disappointing ACL campaign and are out of contention for the next stage.

However, Boogaard knows better than to think the 2008 ACL champions will just roll over and concede, in fact he is expecting quite the contrary.

“They (Gamba) are one of the biggest powerhouses in Asia and one of the biggest teams in Japan, so regardless of whether they played their second or third string team, they-re still going to be hard to beat, especially over there in front of their home crowd,” Boogaard said.

“They-re out of the ACL now and are probably concentrating more on their domestic league, but for us we-ve still got to go about our business the right way and concentrate on what we need to do to beat them, and I believe we can.”

The Reds depart for Osaka on Sunday morning.