Adelaide United FC will go into tomorrow night’s match concentrating on what it can control, and not its opponent’s predicament, as it prepares to take on Japan’s Sanfrecce Hiroshima at Hindmarsh Stadium in Match Day 3 of the AFC Champions League 2010 (Kick-Off 7.30pm ACDT).
The Reds face a Sanfrecce team under immense pressure to stay in contention for a place in the next round, after suffering consecutive defeats in its opening two matches of the competition. This is in stark contrast to United, the Reds sitting clear at the top of Group H after catching both Pohang Steelers and Shandong Luneng off guard on its way to securing maximum points.
Recording both of its victories as underdogs, United heads into the clash with the winless Sanfrecce in the unfamiliar position as favourites. With the shoe now on the other foot, Head Coach Joe Mullen says the squad will need to keep its focus on its own game, in order not to get drawn into the pressure of being frontrunners against the J-League club desperate for a win.
“It’s something we’ve spoken about…that there’s a different expectation tomorrow night, that we’re expected to win the game,” Mullen said.
“The players are aware of that, but we’ve spoken about concentrating and focusing on what we’ve got control of, and they’re the things we’ve worked on this week.”
With Hiroshima chasing its inaugural win of the competition after succumbing to an injury time winner in their last ACL outing against Pohang in Korea, Mullen and the Reds are all too aware of coming up against a team playing for its ACL survival.
Mullen believes the key to the Reds overcoming the Japanese club will be to stay focused on what they need to do, rather than concern themselves with Sanfrecce’s do-or-die situation.
“They (Sanfrecce Hiroshima) definitely need to get a result out of this game. We’re expecting the way they’re going to play, but what we’re concentrating on first and foremost is our strengths and the way that we’re going to line up,” Mullen said.
“I think if we worry too much about how they’re going to react to this game, then we can get caught in an area where we don’t need to be, so what we’re going to be doing is concentrating on our own game and our own strengths, and that has been very good on the training track this week.”
Despite recording two losses and touching down in Adelaide just 48 hours before the match after a long flight, Sanfrecce will have no shortage of confidence when they run out against the Reds.
The ACL debutants currently sit in second on the J-League table, after captain and prolific goal scorer Hisato Sato’s brace helped them to an impressive 3-1 away win last weekend in the domestic competition.
But while he is wary of Hiroshima, Mullen reemphasised the importance for United to work on executing its game plan, and not veering away from what has brought it success so far in the competition.
“We’re expecting that they need to get a result, no doubt about that… they’re certainly taking some good form from the domestic competition into the game…but I think for us it’s about worrying about ourselves and playing to our strengths,” Mullen said.
“The biggest danger for us is having complacency, especially after two terrific results so far, so they’re the things we’re concentrating on, our strengths and making sure we’re not complacent as we’re going to be coming up against a very good, very well organised football side.”
After being rested in the trial match against the Central Coast Mariners last week, a refreshed Travis Dodd is a definite starter to lead the Reds against Sanfrecce.
Although the Reds have had an encouraging start, the United skipper says the playing group is not taking anything for granted, with more than half of the Group Stage still to be played.
“It was a good opportunity for me to recover properly from the game in China. I’ve benefitted from the time off and am looking forward to the game tomorrow night.”
“The biggest risk for us is not to be complacent. At the end of the day we haven’t achieved anything yet. We’ve had a great start with two wins, but we haven’t qualified yet so we know the only way to do that is to keep winning, so we’ll have a positive attitude, not take anything for granted tomorrow night.”
“They haven’t had a good start so they’ll be desperate and we need to match it out there.”
United has had mixed results against Japanese opposition at Hindmarsh Stadium, having secured a famous victory over the Kashima Antlers in the 2nd leg of the 2008 ACL Quarter Finals before falling to fellow Japanese giants Gamba Osaka in the return leg of the 2008 Final.
Tickets for United’s match against Sanfrecce Hiroshima are available through Ticketek (call 132 849, online at www.ticketek.com.au).
AFC Champions League 2010 – Match Day 3
Adelaide United FC v Sanfrecce Hiroshima
Wednesday 24 March 2010, Hindmarsh Stadium
Kick-Off: 7.30pm ACDT
Referee: Subkhiddin Mohd Salleh (Malaysia)
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), 24.Marcos FLORES, 27.Adam GRIFFITHS
Sanfrecce Hiroshima squad: 2.Ilian STOYANOV, 5.Tomoaki MAKINO, 7.Koji MORISAKI, 8.Kazuyuki MORISAKI, 9.Tadanari LEE, 11.Hisato SATO (c), 13.Issei TAKAYANGI, 16.Satoru YAMAGISHI, 17.Kota HATTORI, 20.Shinichiro KUWADA, 21.Shusaku NISHIKAWA (gk), 22.Tsubasa YOKOTAKE, 23.Hironori ISHIKAWA, 24.Ryota MORIWAKI, 27.Kohei SHIMIZU, 33.Masato YAMAZAKI, 34.Hirotsugu NAKABAYASHI (gk), 35.Koji NAKAJIMA