Ognenovski thriving

Adelaide United's Sasa Ognenovski is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get busy.

Adelaide United's Sasa Ognenovski is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get busy.

The bustling defender thrives on the challenge of shutting down the best strikers while his eagerness to push forward has earned him goals in his last two Hyundai A-League games.

He's also proved a steady influence during the Reds' hectic program which has seen them involved in Asian Champions League, Club World Cup and A-League fixtures for most of the season.

It's for this reason the former Queensland Roar player has no problem about United's demanding conclusion to the season. After their clash against Perth Glory on Boxing Day, they play six games during January.

It's a heavy workload but one the 29-year-old believes a match-hardened Adelaide is ready for.

"For other clubs they might look upon that and think it's a bit daunting but we've sort of been through playing games every three or four days," Ognenovski said.

"Our bodies are prepared for that so we just see it as another challenge."

"We've been travelling in Japan, in Uzbekistan and countries like that and then having to come back and play in the A-League as well."

"I'd rather play games week in week out and midweek rather than train."

The Reds haven't played in South Australia for several weeks and their first 'home' game against Sydney FC is at Adelaide Oval on January 3.

That fixture in itself provides its own challenges with the players dealing with new pre-match routines and a venue designed for another sport.

Ognenovski said the team's experiences in international competitions would also help them prepare better for this clash.

"We are going to have to adapt. This is why this experience of the Champions League, of playing on different surfaces and different stadiums ...all of that will come to no surprise for us," he said.

"Although it is a cricket pitch and the surface might be a bit different, we've learnt that you have to adapt to any playing surface and any sort of stadium."

"I don't think it will be too much of a problem to adapt to that stadium."

Adelaide United left for Japan with top spot in its keeping but fully aware they could slip down the ladder as other teams continued their domestic seasons.

But a variety of upset results has surprisingly allowed the Reds to maintain their number one advantage.

Ognenovski said the players were aware they could control their destiny as they'll have two games in hand when 2009 rolls around.

"We've got a team capable of winning trophies in the A-League so we've got to take full advantage of the situation. We've got a few players coming off contract who don't know if they'll stay or not," he said.

United's continued success relies heavily on the continued good form of Ognenovski - one of the club's big recruits during the off-season.

The Melbourne-born player has been a physical presence in defence while his recent attacking flair has seen his stocks rise even further.

"They are calling me the in-form striker of the side," he said jokingly about his goals against Newcastle and Wellington Phoenix.

"But like I've said I'd rather keep a clean sheet and let the other boys do the scoring. It's always good for a defender to score goals but my job is defending and I think the boys up front have got to start scoring goals which we did in the Wellington game," he said.

"If you are getting three or four goals a year from your defenders and your midfielders it puts you in good stead to finish the league in the right sort of positions whether it be top, second or third."

"It's always a bonus for the team."