Adelaide United FC fans will be given an early dose of the excitement they can expect during the season proper when the Reds host Melbourne Victory and Harry Kewell in a pre-season friendly at Hindmarsh Stadium this Friday night.
Adelaide United FC fans will be given an early dose of the excitement they can expect during the season proper when the Reds host Melbourne Victory and Harry Kewell in a pre-season friendly at Hindmarsh Stadium.
The start to season seven of the Hyundai A-League may still be a fortnight away, but the anticipation of Kewell taking the field for his first game in a Melbourne Victory shirt has created unprecedented attention for a pre-season tussle.
Reds head coach Rini Coolen admits he has never been involved in a pre-season game that has had so much hype surrounding it, but he knows it will be an ideal hit out for his team ahead of their season opener against Perth Glory on October 9.
“We were excited when we knew that one of our trial games was against Melbourne Victory because they are always special games, but then knowing that they have also signed a player like Harry Kewell, it makes it even better for everyone,” Coolen said.
But with all of the excitement around Kewell, Coolen is confident any distractions created by the arrival of the former Leeds and Liverpool star will not affect the Reds- concentration in regards to what they will be working on during the 90 minutes.
“We prefer to work on our shape, it doesn-t matter who our opponent is, and we have to be careful with all of the trial games we play because they are tough games, which is what you want when you are preparing for a tough competition.”
Reds midfielder Dario Vidosic echoes Coolen-s sentiments. Vidosic, who has missed both of United-s previous two trial games due to a hamstring injury but is set to start on the bench against the Victory.
The 24-year-old has been in Qantas Socceroos squads with Kewell in the past and says while there will be added motivation to score a positive result against a side with a player of Kewell-s stature in it, the Reds- focus will be on the areas they want to work on.
“He (Kewell) is a phenomenal player. I think everyone knows what he-s capable of and it won-t be any surprise that a lot of people will want to come to see him,” Vidosic said.
“But we definitely want to win, and it would make it even more special because it-s one thing to beat Melbourne Victory who are a great club and have proved it over the six seasons so far, but it-s another thing to beat Melbourne Victory with Harry Kewell in the team.”
“We don-t care who is on the other side, it could be Barcelona coming but it wouldn-t bother us. We want to play football, play our best and achieve things this season. We-ve set our goals very high regardless of whether it-s Brett Emerton or Harry Kewell coming - we-ve set our goals and we want to achieve them.”
The Reds are expected to welcome back a host of players from side that defeated Brisbane Roar last weekend with Vidosic, captain Jon McKain, fellow defender Daniel Mullen, Dutch winger Andy Slory and new signing Ricardo Da Silva all included in the squad.
Evgeniy Levchenko has overcome a minor groin problem that he suffered against the Roar and is likely take his place, however Coolen has opted not to risk striker Bruce Djite, who has minor hamstring tightness. Young goalkeeper Mark Birighitti will also be an absentee as he recovers from an adductor strain.
“He trained the last couple of days but he hasn-t been 100 per cent fit, and he trained today but I-ve made the decision that he will not play as it-s too much risk and we won-t take that risk, but he will be fine in a couple of days,” Coolen said of Djite.