Reds bound for AFC Champions League 2012

Adelaide United FC is officially into its fourth AFC Champions League campaign.

Adelaide United FC is officially into its fourth AFC Champions League campaign after the draw for the 2012 competition was held in Kuala Lumpur this evening.

The Reds received a direct passage into Asia-s prestigious club competition when they were drawn out of the Play-Off Group draw as the club given progress straight through to the main draw.

Adelaide United FC-s opportunity to participate in the AFC Champions League 2012 came after the AFC Executive Committee increased the number of Australian spots in the competition from two to two and a half from 2012.

This meant the Reds were placed in the Play-Off draw after finishing third in the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 Season at the end of the minor round.

Initially the Play-Off qualification was to feature five clubs and consist of two rounds. However, when the Chinese FA and Indonesian FA withdrew two clubs from the preliminary play-offs, it left Adelaide United with Korea-s Pohang Steelers and a team yet to be confirmed from Thailand vying for two AFC Champions League spots.

Following the Reds- automatic progression into the main draw, they were then drawn in Group E alongside Japan-s Gamba Osaka, Uzbekistan heavyweights Bunyodkor and the winner of the play-off match between Pohang and the club from Thailand.

Remarkably, the Reds will face both Bunyodkor and Gamba Osaka for the second time in the AFC Champions League after meeting them both in the 2008 Finals, while they also met Pohang in the same year.

United defeated Bunyodkor in the semi finals before going down to champions Gamba in the Final, indicating the Reds face a tough task as they prepare to enter the Asian frontier for the fourth time.

In Kuala Lumpur for the draw, Adelaide United FC Chairman Greg Griffin was thrilled that the club-s willingness to back its chances of qualifying had come to fruition.

“We took a very significant punt because we were offered a position in the play-offs and had we lost in the play-offs and not made it through to the ACL, we would have had to play in the second tier AFC Cup, which Football Federation Australia estimated could have cost us $400k,” Griffin said.

“So it was a big punt but we took the view that Adelaide United playing in the AFC Champions League is what our supporters hope for and that-s why we took the risk.”

“The FFA made it clear that if we had to play in the AFC Cup it was all our risk, so the board took a gamble and it paid off in spades. We are just over the moon.”

“Hopefully this is a catalyst to get our Hyundai A-League season back on track and gives our supporters something to be happy about.”

“The Adelaide United brand is a really significant and well recognised brand in Asia, everybody knows it, and this reinforces our brand in the region so it-s a terrific day for the club.”

Adelaide United will join last season-s Hyundai A-League champions Brisbane Roar and grand finalists the Central Coast Mariners as the Australians club in the AFC Champions League 2012.

Adelaide United FC - AFC CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2012 GROUP E Gamba Osaka (Japan) Adelaide United FC (Australia) Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan) Play-off East Winner (TBC)

Match Day 1 - 6/7 March Match Day 2 - 20/21 March Match Day 3 - 3/4 April Match Day 4 - 17/18 April Match Day 5 - 1/2 May Match Day 6 - 15/16 May

[Fixtures plus official dates and kick-off times are to be confirmed]