Tashkent holds no fears for upbeat Reds

Adelaide United FC Coach John Kosmina believes the Reds’ trip to Tashkent earlier in the year will prove valuable as they prepare for Wednesday’s deciding Quarter Final leg.

Adelaide United FC Coach John Kosmina believes the Reds- trip to Tashkent earlier in the year will count for something as they prepare to embark on their second journey to the Uzbek capital for Wednesday-s deciding Quarter Final leg.

More often than not, there would generally be an element of the unknown heading into an away game of an AFC Champions League Quarter Final, however for the Reds it is a location and a team they have come to know well.

Going into the 2nd Leg against Bunyodkor with the aggregate score at 2-2 after last week-s 1st Leg at Hindmarsh, the Reds venture to Tashkent in the knowledge that they have beaten the reigning Uzbek league winners there before and have a firm grasp of what to expect, both in terms of the travel required and the atmosphere at Jar Stadium come game day.

Of the players expected to head over to Tashkent, only Jake Barker-Daish, Daniel Bowles, Jeronimo Neumann, Evan Kostopoulos and reserve keeper Paul Izzo were not part of the squad that were there for the opening Match Day of the Group Stage on March 6.

“I think it helps,” Kosmina said on whether his side-s previous experience would give them any added benefit.

“The majority of the squad that will be travelling this time around will have been there before, and it-s just part and parcel of football in this area of the world, so you deal with it.”

“There-s no point saying it-s a long trip and we might be tired, the fact is we-ve got to do it so let-s go there, travel well and get a result.”

Kosmina also declared that any lingering let down emotions from the 1st Leg result, which saw the Reds have Bunyodkor on the ropes but needing to settle for a draw in the end, were now out of the players- systems.

Instead, the squad is jumping out of its skin to prove its first 30 minutes when it totally outplayed Bunyodkor was no flash in the pan and that a place in the semi finals in very much achievable.

“I said to the players in the dressing room after the 1st Leg, ‘don-t drop your heads about this, these things happen-. It was our first competitive match and we probably went too well in the first 30 minutes, it was like we-d gone straight from the training paddock into the game and it almost became fun…and when the axe fell we weren-t quite ready to deal with it,” Kosmina said.

“They (the players) have got nothing to be ashamed about. They played well enough to wrap that game up in the first 30 minutes and there is no reason we can-t go to Tashkent and believe we can play the same way and get the same sort of outcome - although this time we-ll get the points.”

United will take a squad of 17 players to Tashkent, with the biggest question mark over who comes in to partner Iain Fyfe in the centre of defence in place of the suspended Nigel Boogaard.

Kosmina is tossing up between Jon McKain, who missed the 1st Leg because of a knee injury, and Antony Golec, with the recovery and condition of McKain-s knee to have some bearing on the final decision.

“Looking at Jonny McKain-s fitness, it will be between him and Antony Golec. We-ll wait and see. We-re going to play a little internal (game) tomorrow and we-ll see how that pans out but it comes down to McKain-s fitness so we worked with both of them this morning.”

“It will come down to whether Jon McKain is healthy or not. If he-s not, then we-ll keep Jordan Elsey in the squad.”

The Reds will train tomorrow and Saturday before departing for Uzbekistan on Sunday morning as they continue to fly the flag for Australia and aim to reach the ACL Semi Finals for the second time.

To progress, the Reds simply need to win or draw at least 3-3, while another 2-2 draw would see the tie go into extra time and possibly penalties.