Preview: Bunyodkor v Adelaide United
The key for Adelaide will be to focus on the task at hand and play a positive brand of football.
Date: Wednesday, October 22 Kick-off: 5.30pm local (11.30pm AEST) Venue: MHSK Stadium, Tashkent, Uzbekistan TV coverage: Fox Sports 3 (Live)
Previous results: Pohang Steelers 0 Adelaide United 2, Pohang Steelyard, March 12, 2008 Adelaide United 0 Changchun Yatai 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, March 19, 2008 Binh Duong 1 Adelaide United 2, Binh Duong Stadium, April 9 2008 Adelaide United 4 Binh Duong 1, Hindmarsh Stadium, April 23, 2008 Adelaide United 1 Pohang Steelers 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, May 7, 2008 Changchun Yatai 0 Adelaide United 0, Changchun City Stadium, May 22, 2008 Kashima Antlers 1 Adelaide United 1, Kashima City Stadium, September 17, 2008 Adelaide United 1 Kashima Antlers 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, September 24, 2008 Adelaide United 3 Bunyodkor 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, October 8, 2008
Al Ittihad FC Jedda 1 Bunyodkor 0, Prince Abdullah Al Faisal, March 12, 2008 Bunyodkor 2 Foolad Mobarekeh Sepahan 0, MHSK Stadium, March 19, 2008 Ittihad 0 Bunyodkor 1, Aleppo International Stadium, April 9, 2008 Bunyodkor 1 Ittihad 0, MHSK Stadium, April 23, 2008 Bunyodkor 2 Al Ittihad Jedda 0, MHSK Stadium, May 7, 2008 Foolad Mobarekeh Sepahan 1 Bunyodkor 1, Azadi Stadium, May 21, 2008 Saipa 2 Bunyodkor 2, Azadi Stadium September 17, 2008 Bunyodkor 5 Saipa 1, MHSK Stadium, September 24, 2008 Bunyodkor 0 Adelaide United 3, Hindmarsh Stadium October 8, 2008
Analysis Despite its heavy workload and comparative shoestring budget, Adelaide United has risen to every challenge thrown its way, beating some of the best clubs in Asia over the past seven months. For this reason there was always a sense of optimism the home leg of their semi-final would bring some joy and leave something to play for in Uzbekistan.
But no one, including the team itself, believed a 3-0 result was on the cards. A tough first half, which featured several attacking chances from both sides, was followed by a goal rush after the break with Diego, Fabian Barbiero and Cristiano scoring and whipping the sell-out Hindmarsh crowd into a frenzy.
Barbiero, who has only played seven Hyundai A-League games in the past two seasons, also joined forces with midfielder Paul Reid to limit the influence of Brazilian great Rivaldo.
The surprise result dumbfounded Bunyodkor coach Ziko and left the Reds' Aurelio Vidmar to play down his side's chances before an enthusiastic local media.
A FIFA break during the weekend after the clash allowed United to catch their breath and then return to the Hyundai A-League where they beat Queensland Roar 1-0 last Friday.
The main concern for Adelaide is the fitness of goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic who injured his driver muscle during a Socceroos' training camp last week.
According to Adelaide's daily newspaper The Advertiser, Galekovic walked laps while training in Tashkent and is no certainty to suit up for the Reds. The former Melbourne Victory player has been a revelation since crossing the border, particularly in the Champions League in which has conceded just three goals in nine games.
In other bad news, marquee player Paul Agostino has been ruled out with a torn calf muscle. He's been overshadowed by Brazilian striker Cristiano this season but still offered some depth on the team's bench.
On the plus side Sasa Ognenovski is back from an AFC suspension and will offer a steady head in defence.
Meanwhile its been business as usual for Bunyodkor/Kuruvchi in Uzbekistan's local league with Ziko's boys recording a 1-0 victory over AGMK at the weekend. Uzbekistan international Anvar Soliev scored the goal for Bunyodkor seven minutes from time and gave his side a seven-point lead at the top of the ladder.
They'll be desperate to make amends for the game at Hindmarsh Stadium and have the personnel to turn this semi-final series on its head.
Rumours that Rivaldo is keen to make a swift return to Brazil have been quashed and he'll be keen to show the Uzbekis he's committed to the cause.
Meanwhile Jasur Hasanov, captain Server Djeparov and Ulugbek Bakaev showed in Adelaide they can have an impact on a contest.
Bunyodkor's 5-1 thrashing of Iranian side Saipa will also give them the belief that they can pounce on an unlikely 'Grand Final' berth.
The key for Adelaide will be to focus on the task at hand and play a positive brand of football. A defensive mindset will play into the home side's hands and cause some tense moments. A goal or two will all but seal the result giving the South Australians the chance to write another chapter in their AFC Champions League history.