Adelaide United FC has every intention to put reigning champions, the Pohang Steelers on the back foot, when they run out for Match Day 1 AFC Champions League 2010 blockbuster at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight (Wednesday 24 February).
If the assertion of Head Coach Joe Mullen is anything to go by, a Reds outfit now boasting a host of attacking options, are not going into their historic third AFC Champions League campaign to just make up the numbers as they prepare to face the Korean giants.
The magnitude of the first up challenge for United appears to be a momentous one, as they face a club that took all before them on its way to the 2009 AFC Champions League crown, but Mullen believes the injection of some creative and clinical players in the front half of the pitch such as Argentinean playmaker Marcos Flores and Dutch marksman Sergio van Dijk, means the home side can go in knowing it has the firepower to get off to a flyer.
“At home we want to win the game and get off to a good start, and you can’t have that with a defensive mindset,” Mullen said.
“We’d like to go to try to win this game. Certainly acquisitions like a Marcos Flores will add that, and we think we’ve got good offensive players out wide, so it will be important that we have an attacking flavour tomorrow night.”
“We know that the Koreans are very well prepared physically, we also know that tactically they are very good and technically they’re amongst the best in the world, so we need to respect that, but I think tomorrow night is about us and how we prepare ourselves for that game.”
The inclusion of Flores and van Dijk, along with the arrival of fellow signings Adam Griffiths and Nigel Boogaard gives United a multitude of combinations to choose from for its opening encounter in the prestigious Asian club competition, a situation Mullen is more than happy to be in.
“It’s a great position to be in. The acquisitions of the players we’ve got into the squad have done the squad no ends of good,” Mullen said.
“They’re good quality characters, good quality players and I think it’s going to be good for the club.”
Which of the new players get the nod to line up against Pohang is still unknown, with the Reds to hold their final training session early this evening at Hindmarsh Stadium, this session to determine which way Mullen, Vidmar and United’s coaching staff decide to go in the make up of the side.
Mullen, who is registered as the Reds’ Head Coach for the AFC Champions League, as Aurelio Vidmar has not completed the necessary qualifications to be eligible for the competition, says Vidmar’s usual role will predominantly remain the same.
“Aurelio will be involved as much as he can be. We know exactly what the situation is in terms of the coaching he is doing. He’s very much involved in preparing this team, which is very critical to our success, and he’ll be involved alongside me tomorrow night,” Mullen said.
United has reason to be confident heading into the match. The Reds took maximum points in their last two games of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 Season and also have an unblemished record against the Steelers, after they beat them twice in the 2008 AFC Champions League Group Stage on their way to reaching the Final.
However this is a new slate and a new Pohang side that has undergone significant change since they lifted the AFC Champions league trophy last season, having acquired a new coach and a number of new signings, but is sure to again have them highly regarded going into their title defence.
The best of Asia is literally on Adelaide’s doorstep, and the stage is set as the Reds attempt to stun the reigning AFC Champions League champions.
Tickets for the match are available through Ticketek (call 132 849, online at www.ticketek.com.au). Gates open at 6pm.
AFC Champions League 2010 – Match Day 1
Adelaide United FC v Pohang Steelers
Wednesday 24 February 2010, Hindmarsh Stadium
Kick-Off: 7.30pm ACDT (8.00pm AEDT)
Referee: Mohsen Basma (Syria)
Adelaide United squad: 1.Eugene GALEKOVIC (gk), 2.Robert CORNTHWAITE, 3.Nigel BOOGAARD, 4.Iain FYFE, 5.Daniel MULLEN, 6.CASSIO, 7.Lucas PANTELIS, 9.Sergio VAN DIJK, 10.Adam HUGHES, 12.Paul REID, 13.Travis DODD (c), 14.Scott JAMIESON, 15.Francesco MONTEROSSO, 16.Inseob SHIN, 17.Michael MARRONE, 18.Fabian BARBIERO, 19.Mathew LECKIE, 20.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 22.Dane MILOVANOVIC, 23.Joe COSTA, 24.Marcos FLORES, 25.Evan KOSTOPOULOS, 26.Perry MITRIS, 27.Adam GRIFFITHS, 28.Matthew MULLEN, 29.Joel ALLWRIGHT, 30.Nicholas MUNRO (gk)
Unavailable: 8.Kristian SARKIES (broken leg – indefinite), 21.Mark Rudan (calf – indefinite)
Pohang Steelers squad: 1.Shin HWA YONG (gk), 2.Park HEECHUL, 3.Kim KWANGSUK, 4.Okayama KAZUNARI, 5.Kim TAESU, 6.Kim GI DONG, 7.Kim JAESUNG, 8.Hwang JINSUNG, 9.ALEXANDRO, 10.MOTA, 11.Seol KIHYEON, 15.Cho HONGKYOO, 16.Kim JUNG KYUM, 17.Ko KIGU, 18.ALMIR, 20.Shin HYUNGMIN, 21.Song DONG JIN (gk), 22.No BYUNGJUN, 23.Ryu CHANGHYUN, 24.Hwang JAE WON (c), 25.Jeong SEOK MIN, 26.Cho CHAN HO, 28.Song CHANGHO, 29.Choi HYUNYEON, 30.Jung JUNGSEUK, 31.Kim DASOL (gk), 32.Kim HYUNGIL, 33.Lee GIDONG, 37.Kang DAE HO, 40.Kim DAEHO
Adelaide United vs. Pohang Steelers – Previous HEAD to HEAD Results
AFC Champions League 2008
Match Day 1 (12-March-2008) @ Pohang Steelyard
Pohang Steelers 0
Adelaide United FC 2 (Cornthwaite 4’, Djite 60’)
Match Day 5 (7-May-2008) @ Hindmarsh Stadium
Adelaide United FC 1 (Diego 63’)
Pohang Steelers 0