John Kosmina has made it clear he believes his men are in with a massive chance of knocking off Japan’s Nagoya Grampus tonight. “Any of the Japanese teams are beatable, they’ve got to make the trip and these are all things that can help us get on with the job . . .” claimed Kosmina. Adelaide are easily Australia’s most successful club in Asian competition. It’s now their third incursion into the knockout stages of the ACL.
Nagoya’s most recent match was a 1-nil defeat to Cerezo Osaka on Friday 25th May. Prior to that they crashed 4-nil to J league leaders Vegalta Sendai in a pulsating match (2-nil until 87mins) at Yurtec Stadium, Sendai. The form may not be as patchy as it appears on paper and we can’t forget the Aichi based side put the cleaners through the Mariners in their last ACL outing.
For Adelaide, their last league match was way back on March 23rd. They had a terrible domestic season with current manager John Kosmina coming in just before the midway point of the season, yet still being powerless to turn things around. Just like the year that Adelaide went all the way to the final of the ACL (2008), this year’s continental success comes off the back of a dismal domestic season. Keeper Eugene Galekovic said “No one has really rated us since day one . . .” and the Reds have thrived on the underdog status. Throughout the ACL the Reds have made no secret of their intentions to sit back and hit on the counter. It’s been successful, and that can be attributed largely to the speed of players like Dario Vidosic and former Sydney sider Ian Ramsey. Most surprising has been the sparing use of Sergio Van Dijk. The A-League stalwart seems out of favour with Kosmina, but he popped up to grab a goal in the recent outing against Gamba Osaka.
So tonight’s result really hinges on Adelaide making the most of their limited chances. I can see some reprisals if Adelaide surge forward in a counter attack and a player the calibre of Kensuke Nagai or Mu Kanazaki find the ball. But who wants this the most? Motivation is always a huge factor when very little separates the teams on paper. This is a shop window for many of the Reds younger players and maybe the biggest game of their lives. On that note, I’ll have to give it to the Reds (of Adelaide).