Adelaide United FC Coach Aurelio Vidmar is not letting the various outcomes of whom and where the Reds may play their Round of 16 encounter, as he leads up to the decisive Match Day 6 of the AFC Champions League against China’s Shandong Luneng.
Leading up to the final Match Day of the AFC Champions League Group Stage, there are a host of possible scenarios of how United’s Round of 16 predicament could play out.
The one off elimination Round of 16 in the AFC Champions League, pits the top team of one group against the runners up of another group at the home venue of the first placed team. Group H, of which United currently sits in first place just ahead of Pohang Steelers on goal difference, have been matched up with Group F in the Round of 16, a group that currently has Japan’s Kashima Antlers three points clear of Korea’s Jeonbuk Motors.
The final standings of both groups face intriguing climaxes, with the top spots to be decided by results on the final match day.
Depending on what transpires, the Reds could find themselves possibly hosting Kashima or Jeonbuk at Hindmarsh Stadium, or having to face either of the two sides away from home.
United will ensure a home game in the Round of 16 by recording an equal or better result as Pohang in Match Day 6. The Reds host Shandong Luneng, while Pohang travel to take on Sanfrecce Hiroshima, and with both games scheduled to kick off at the same time, it could come down to the final whistle of both encounters.
Despite all of the possible scenarios, Vidmar knows whatever confronts United in the Round of 16 on May 12 will be a tough assignment, and all they can worry about is giving themselves the best possible chance to finish top by defeating Shandong.
“It doesn’t really matter (who or where we play in the Round of 16) because it’s still going to be extremely difficult,” Vidmar said.
“Jeonbuk are having a great season in the K-League, and the Antlers, we know how good they are, so it doesn’t matter. You get to that stage and it’s great, but it will be very difficult nonetheless.”
“We’ve done very well to get into the Round of 16 and we’re confident going into this game on the 27th and then May 12th.”
“But we can’t worry about May 12th yet, we’ve got to make sure we get everything right for this game against Shandong first and build up a little bit of momentum and then look forward to the Round of 16.”
The Reds had a solid 90 minute workout this morning with an internal trial game at Hindmarsh, Vidmar and Assistant Coach Phil Stubbins, who is back after a two week coaching course, both pleased with the squad’s progress a week out from the match with Shandong.
“We haven’t had a trial for a couple of weeks so we thought it was time we had another little hit out and I thought it went very well this morning,” Vidmar said.
“There are a lot of players who haven’t played for quite awhile, so it was important that they got a decent run.”
With Lucas Pantelis, Daniel Mullen and Adam Hughes to miss the game against Shandong through suspension, Vidmar is still deliberating over his line up to tackle the Chinese Super League side.
The Reds boss also faces some uncertainty about the availability of left back Scott Jamieson. There is a possibility that the 2008/09 Hyundai A-League Rising Star, who is currently trialling in Germany, could be stranded in Europe due to the volcanic activity in Iceland that has grounded aircraft and seen airports come to a standstill throughout Europe.
“We’re not sure what’s happening with Scotty at the moment,” Vidmar said.
“Obviously with the problems of the flights going out of Europe, there’s a bit of a problem for us, but there’s not much we can do, we’re expecting him back on Sunday so we’ll just wait and see.”
Tickets for Adelaide United’s match against Shandong Luneng are available through Ticketek (call 132 849, online at www.ticketek.com.au).