Captain Eugene Galekovic has vowed that as the sole Australian club left in the competition, they will not be leaving anything in the tank against Nagoya Grampus.
Adelaide United FC captain Eugene Galekovic has vowed that as the sole Australian club left in the AFC Champions League 2012, they will not be leaving anything in the tank when they meet Nagoya Grampus in a cutthroat Round of 16 match tomorrow night at Hindmarsh Stadium.
One of the Reds- most experienced ACL campaigners having played in all but one match of the club-s last three ventures into the competition, Galekovic is not ready for the Reds- 2012 tilt to end now.
Surprising many as they finished top of their group, recording four wins from their six Group Stage matches in the process, the Reds come into their second knockout Round of 16 clash at home in three years aiming to secure a spot in the last eight.
Galekovic says there is a genuine feeling amongst the players that they can be on the right side of the ledger tomorrow night in what is yet another chance for the Reds to add to their impressive list of big name Asian scalps.
“No one has really rated us since day one and we weren-t even meant to get to this stage, so considering that you could probably say that the pressure is off us but as a playing group we do want to qualify for the quarter finals,” Galekovic said.
“That was our aim from day one, we-ve been to the knockout stage three times now, been successful once and unlucky when we lost in extra time against Jeonbuk in 2010, so we do want to progress, that-s our aim as a playing group, others might not see that but we really do want to go as far as we can.”
“There-s one more game to go and I can guarantee we will give our all.”
Standing in United-s way of a spot in the Quarter Finals in September is a Nagoya Grampus side comprising of Serbian legend Dragan Stojkovic at the helm and a plethora of talent right across the park, including Qantas Socceroos striker Josh Kennedy.
Nagoya finished second behind Korean club Seongnam Ilhwa in Group G, and like the Reds, will be looking to improve on their last time out in the AFC Champions League which saw them knocked out in the Round of 16 by Suwon Samsung Bluewings last year.
Adelaide United boasts an impressive record against Japanese opposition at Hindmarsh Stadium with three wins from four matches against J-League sides. But Galekovic, who has kept four clean sheets and conceded just two goals in 540 minutes of football in the ACL this year - the Reds with the equal best defensive record in the Group Stage, knows they will need to call on all of their resilience to keep Kennedy and co at bay.
“Any time you come up against a Japanese opponent they are going to be quality and Nagoya is one of those. They-ve obviously got Josh (Kennedy) up front, another striker in (Keiji) Tamada who is scoring goals as well so it-s not just one guy we have to watch out for, there are a number of them so we-ll be aware,” Galekovic said.
“We know they-re a quality team and on paper they might be a better team than us, but as a group we-ve shown this year in the ACL that we can match it against the best and hopefully come tomorrow we can.”
Adelaide United registered Head Coach for the AFC Champions League, Luciano Trani, revealed the Reds would likely start with the same line up that did the job in Osaka a fortnight ago, defender Jon McKain showing no signs of any discomfort that restricted his workload in the lead up.
“I wouldn-t envisage any changes for tomorrow night-s match. Players are being rewarded for their efforts and performances so far,” Trani said.
The former Wellington Phoenix Assistant Coach is relishing the Reds- remarkable run in the competition and hopes the sporting public of SA can rally behind the team and turn up to Hindmarsh in big numbers.
“It-s an ambition of any club to make the top eight in the ACL…we should be proud of this moment and more importantly it-s about South Australia leading the way in Australian football when we talk about competition in Asia.”
Interestingly, last year seven of the eight Round of 16 matches were won by the home team. Not that records and statistics count for much come kick-off, but the Reds will be hoping this trend continues and they can be a recipient of a home victory.
Tickets for the match are available through Ticketek.
AFC Champions League 2012 - Round of 16 Adelaide United FC (AUS) v Nagoya Grampus (JPN) Tuesday 29 May 2012, Hindmarsh Stadium Kick-Off: 7.30pm ACST Referee: Abdul Malik (Singapore)
Tickets: Available through Ticketek (call 132 849, online at www.ticketek.com.au) TV: Live and exclusive on FOX Sports 1 Radio: ABC - Grandstand Digital and online Twitter: twitter.com/adelutd_fc (hash tag #ACLrd16)
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Jon McKAIN, 5.Daniel MULLEN, 6.CASSIO, 7.Zenon CARAVELLA, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10.Dario VIDOSIC, 11.Bruce DJITE, 12.Antony GOLEC, 14.Cameron WATSON, 17.Iain RAMSAY, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 21.Francisco USUCAR, 22.Iain FYFE, 23.Evan KOSTOPOULOS, 24.Teeboy KAMARA
Nagoya Grampus squad: 1.Seigo NARAZAKI (gk), 4.Markus TULIO TANAKA, 5.Takahiro MAUKAWA, 6.Shoebi ABE, 8.Jungo FUJIMOTO, 10.Yoshizumi OGAWA, 11.Keiji TAMADA, 16.Josh KENNEDY, 17.Yuki MAKI, 18.Kensuke NAGAI, 22.DANIEL, 23.Yosuke ISHIBITSU, 25.Mu KANAZAKI, 28.Taishi TAGUCHI, 32.Hayuma TANAKA, 35.Teruki TANAKA, 38.Alessandro SANTOS, 50.Yoshinari TAKAGI (gk)
Adelaide United v Nagoya Grampus - Overall HEAD TO HEAD RECORD This will be the first time the sides have met