After a big season last year, Adelaide captain TRAVIS DODD says his team are focused and ready for another A-League assault
Last year was all about Adelaide, due to their successful season both home and abroad, but the headlines haven-t been as encouraging this pre-season.
Taken over by the FFA, due to ownership and financial problems; players departing; and an inability to secure a marquee signing is in stark contrast to the recruitment drive going on around the league. For club captain Travis Dodd, however, the focus remains within his camp.
“There-s been quite a bit of change at the club, but we-ve adapted well and we can now look forward to a good season,” Dodd tells AFW in the build up to round one.
After a hectic season last year, Dodd admits it was “good to have some time away from football” but there-s been a lot of upheaval off the training paddock, while the team have been preparing on it for the past four months.
“It hasn-t unsettled the squad,” Dodd says of the club-s ownership change.
“We were lucky because the transition was very smooth and although a lot of people were worried about how it would affect them, and what would happen next, the FFA were fantastic.
“They met us all straight away and assured everyone that it was business as usual… that put a lot of minds at ease and we-ve been able to get on with it.”
While there-s been change off the field, the playing squad, too, has undergone some change. A variety of reasons has stripped the squad of some familiar names, but Dodd, again, says it-s part and parcel of the game.
“It-s something we-ve got to get used to,” he says of the departing players. The difference this year, perhaps in particular for Dodd, is that close friends Michael Valkanis and Angelo Costanzo have gone, as has experienced head Paul Agostino and influential defender Sasa Ognenovski - leaving a major leadership hole in the squad.
During his maiden year as captain last year, Dodd admitted to AFW it was a learning experience and perhaps his apprenticeship as captain with those experienced players will serve him well this season when there-ll be an onus once again on his ability to drive the team forward.
“I feel a lot more confident this year,” Dodd says. “I believe in myself more that I can lead the team and lead well.
“It-s going to be a tough year, but we-ve got players that have played in some of the top leagues so we should be okay.”
Dodd says this year will be a “positive” one for the club, with him naming fitness as an “important factor” in how their season will pan out - a season expected to be the closest and most competitive to date. Dodd says there-s a real “unknown” element to this year-s competition.
“To be honest you don-t know where the threat could come from this season, it could come from anywhere,” he says. “It-s going to be the closest league we-ve ever had.
“You only have to look at Perth and their recruitment, which has been fantastic, to see that they-ll be contenders in the finals this year.
“Gold Coast have done really well for themselves and they-re talking up a good game and setting the bar high so it-ll be interesting to see how they go.
“North Queensland are going to be an unknown team, they-ve got some great players - a couple from Adelaide - and it-ll be interesting to see how Robbie Fowler fits in when he-s fully fit, and hopefully he can do something good for the league.
“Seeing Sydney-s (pre-season) results and the way they-ve been going they-re going to be strong this year as well.
“It-s going to be a good year for the players and spectators.”
There still remains one team Dodd feels his team needs to overcome this season: Melbourne Victory. “We can-t seem to beat them,” he says of the reigning champions. “Even in pre-season we came away with a loss, but we were unlucky to have not beaten them.”
Despite what-s happening at other teams, Dodd has learnt in his time at the club and as captain that there-s only so much you can control… and that is usually the matters close to home, or the training paddock.
“We-ve just been working on our game, worrying about ourselves and getting the basics right,” he says of the pre-season preparations. “We-ve got the belief and we know we can do it so we just have to go out there and make sure come Friday night we get it right on the field and come away with three points.”
CAPTAIN SAYS… Dodd on Adelaide-s new recruits…
LLOYD OWUSU “Although he hasn-t trained a lot with us, because of his swine flu, you can see the potential is there.”
IAIN FYFE “Iain-s back in Adelaide and he-s a good solid defender, hopefully he-ll form a good partnership with Robbie Cornthwaite.”
ADAM HUGHES “Even in training and in the trial games you can see he-s going to be a big component of our play in the midfield.”
SHIN “He-s come from a uni side in Korea and got a professional contract, for the first time, with us and you wouldn-t know it when you look at the way he plays and trains. He-s going to be a good talent for us.”
This article appeared in the First Issue of Australian Football Weekly (AFW) for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season. Australian Football Weekly, on sale at every Hyundai A-League game for $5.