Adelaide United FC has top spot in Group E within its grasp if it can defeat Bunyodkor at Hindmarsh Stadium in Match Day 5 of the AFC Champions League.
Adelaide United FC has top spot in Group E well within its grasp if it can defeat Bunyodkor tomorrow night at Hindmarsh Stadium in Match Day 5 of the AFC Champions League Group Stage.
Three points clear heading into the Group Stage-s penultimate match day, the Reds have the chance to lock down a place in the Round of 16 by securing another win over the reigning Uzbek league winners to go with the 2-1 triumph they had in Tashkent back in March.
While a draw tomorrow night would be enough for the Reds to finish in the top two, United-s registered Head Coach for the AFC Champions League, Luciano Trani, is only thinking about one result.
The benefit of a first place finish in the group is that Reds would host a Round of 16 encounter at Hindmarsh, whereas second spot would see them travel away to face the winner of Group G in the one-off knockout fixture.
“(We-re) going for the win because we-ve got a home game here and we want to take advantage of it,” Trani said.
“A win will obviously confirm our top two spot but more importantly it might give us the top spot which is a huge advantage.”
But despite three wins from their four matches so far, including a perfect 100 per cent record at home, the Reds are not through yet and captain Eugene Galekovic knows it.
The Reds- gloveman is wary of a much improved Bunyodkor from the one United faced in Tashkent, and he is predicting an attacking affair considering there is a lot hinging on the result for both teams.
“It-s going to be a totally different game from the first time because they (Bunyodkor) are in season now,” Galekovic, who has not conceded a goal in United-s two previous home games, said.
“They are all firing and they need a win, so the first game might have been a bit touch and go, but this time they need a win as do we, so it-s going to be end to end football.”
Heading into the match, United-s squad has been bolstered by the return of attacking midfielder Dario Vidosic and striker Sergio van Dijk from hamstring injuries, Trani confirming both would play a part in the game.
“He (Vidosic) has shown signs that he is good enough to be part of the game so it-s a question of whether we start or put him on at the back end of the game which is something we still need to think about, but he has got the quality to create openings,” Trani said.
“(And) Serge is available so it gives us more depth in terms of our personnel on the bench as well and that-s a huge advantage, especially in the last 20 minutes. Obviously travel is a big factor in the ACL and hopefully that-s enough to get us a result.”
In any sport much is often made of the impact confidence can have, and following the Reds- impressive run to this point of the competition, it is something Galekovic, says the home side is brimming with and has them believing that another huge Asian scalp is possible.
“I think the confidence has built up nicely. We-ve had a few good results and obviously that has given us a lot of confidence,” Galekovic said.
“We-ve put ourselves in a position where we know if we can win we-ll most likely get a Round of 16 game at home so that-s our aim, to win this game and get top spot.”
Trani shares Galekovic-s quiet air of confidence and he hopes that with the help of a vocal home crowd, it will be enough to wrap up three points on the night.
“We know some of the players that are going to be confident enough to take Bunyodkor on and those players will obviously be encouraged with hopefully good support from the fans coming out to get us across the line,” Trani said.
The teams- only previous meeting at Hindmarsh Stadium came in the 1st Leg of the 2008 AFC Champions League Semi Final when a crowd of over 16,000 saw the Reds stun Bunyodkor 3-0.
Kick-Off is at 7.30pm (ACST) and tickets are available through Ticketek.
AFC Champions League 2012 - Match Day 5 Adelaide United FC (AUS) v Bunyodkor (UZB) Wednesday 2 May 2012, Hindmarsh Stadium Kick-Off: 7.30pm ACST Referee: Liu Kwok Man (Hong Kong)
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk) (c), 2.Osama MALIK, 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, 15.Jacob MELLING, 17.Iain RAMSAY, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 21.Francisco USUCAR, 22.Iain FYFE, 23.Evan KOSTOPOULOS, 24.Teeboy KAMARA
Bunyodkor squad: 1.Ignatiy NESTEROV (gk), 2.Akmal SHORAKHMEDOV, 4.Hayrulla KARIMOV, 5.Dilshod JURAEV, 6.Anvar GAFUROV, 7.David CARNEY, 8.Jovlon IBROKHIMOV, 9.Anvar RAJABOV, 10.Shavkat SALOMOV, 13.Lutfulla TURAEV, 14.Alibobo RAKHMATULLAEV, 15.Miraziz JALOLOV, 17.Kamoliddin MURZOEV, 18.Slavoljub DJORDJEVIC, 19.Yannis MANDZUKAS, 20.Anvarjon SOLIEV, 21.Sardor RASHIDOV, 22.Victor KARPENKO, 23.Sakhob JUAEV, 24.Bahodir PARDAEV, 25.Nodir IBRAKHIMOV (gk), 26.Javlon MIRABDULLAEV, 28.Ruslan MELZIDDINOV, 29.Abdukakhkhor KHJIAKBAROV, 30.Kamoliddin TADJIBAEV, 33.Jan KOZAK, 35.Viktor MOCHALOV (gk), 45.Akbar TURAEV (gk)
Adelaide United v Bunyodkor - HEAD TO HEAD RECORD Played 3 - Adelaide United 2 wins, Bunyodkor 1 win