Adelaide United FC begins a crucial five match run into the finals with a danger game against North Queensland Fury tomorrow night (Friday 21 January 2011) at Hindmarsh Stadium to kick-off ‘Flood Relief Round’ in the Hyundai A-League.
Fresh from a weekend break and with four of their final five games at home, the Reds head into the match with the Fury knowing nothing less than three points will be enough as the race for a top two spot, and a double chance in the finals, intensifies.
The Reds sit three points behind the second placed Central Coast Mariners after the team from Gosford edged out Perth Glory last night, meaning United can ill afford a slip up against the struggling Fury.
While second spot could go a long way to being decided when Adelaide United meets the Mariners next Saturday, January 29, Reds Head Coach, Rini Coolen is not looking past what needs to be done to beat North Queensland tomorrow night.
“We spoke about it this morning. What I already told the players weeks ago was that we have to win our own games, we’ve still got five games to go and if we win all five then more than likely you have everything in your own hands. Four (wins) could be enough depending on who you win or lose to, but that’s what we have to do and that starts tomorrow,” Coolen said.
“I still believe if we win the five games we’ll finish in position number two, but you never know for sure of course. The most important game will likely be next week against the Central Coast, but I want to focus on the first game against the Fury.”
Following their dominant win over Melbourne Victory in their last outing on January 9, the Reds’ squad available to tackle the Fury has been strengthened further with the return of some key personnel from injury, the most notable inclusion that of attacking midfielder Mathew Leckie.
Leckie has been named in the squad for the first time since he injured his knee on October 29, the young livewire set to take up a place on the bench having missed the last 13 games.
“He (Leckie) will be on the bench. He’s good enough to come in, that’s what we already thought a couple of weeks ago, we were looking for a confirmation last week and he did more than good so he’s ready to come in,” Coolen said.
First choice goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic is also back, the two time Hyundai A-League Goalkeeper of the Year ready to start between the posts after a three week layoff with a wrist injury.
Defender Nigel Boogaard has also been recalled to the squad after a groin strain kept him out of the win over the Victory, however the news is not all positive for Coolen with midfielder Fabian Barbiero’s season seemingly over after a training mishap on Tuesday, which saw him reinjure the same ankle that kept him out of the first two months of the season.
North Queensland may have lost their past four games, however they are certain to be anything but pushovers, particularly with experienced pair Ufuk Talay and David Williams both set to return.
Coolen knows the importance of every game from here on in, and says if his side is to seriously contend for second place on the table and be a finals threat, it must continue raising the bar.
“We already spoke about it a couple of weeks ago. If you want to reach something there is pressure every week and that’s already what we’ve had in the last couple of months,” Coolen said.
“We have to handle that, it’s something to improve every week, we had a couple of weeks that were not so perfect, but I think the last three games were more than good and we have to continue that way otherwise you lose control of spot number two.
Kick-Off is at 7.30pm (ACDT) and tickets are available through Ticketek. As part of ‘Flood Relief Round’, Adelaide United encourages all patrons at the game to give generously to help raise funds for the victims of the Queensland foods. Spectators will be able to make donations on the night, while there will also be a special fundraiser at half time.
The National Youth League match between Adelaide United Youth and the Central Coast Mariners Youth will be played as a curtain raiser.
For tickets, visit premier.ticketek.com.au