Preview: Reds ready for ACL quarter-final

All you need to know before Adelaide United go into their AFC Asian Champions League quarter-final against Bunyodkor.

All you need to know before Adelaide United go into their AFC Asian Champions League quarter-final against Bunyodkor.

7:30pm, Wednesday, 19 September, Hindmarsh Stadium

Adelaide United Overview: Coming off what can only be described as their worst ever Hyundai A-League season there was little hope for the Reds in Asia-s premier club competition, but thanks to a strong work ethic and sticking to their formation with counter-attacking style, Adelaide have made it all the way to the final eight of the AFC Champions League.

Expected to be early casualties in the Champions League, the Reds surprised all of the pundits by starting strong in Uzbekistan and topping their group to become the only Australian team in the quarter finals, doing better than A-League champions Brisbane Roar and premiers Central Coast mariners.

And they-ve done it by employing one hard-working striker, usually Bruce Djite, and having him hold the ball up for some of their speedy midfielders such as Ian Ramsay and Dario Vidosic to run on to.

This style of play, combined with their strong physical presence from set pieces has led to defenders like Daniel Mullen, Jon McKain and Nigel Boogard scoring plenty of goals has set them in good stead thus far. With some of the remaining teams looking less than certain under the cross or in the air, it may be a trend that continues, even without the departing Mullen.

Key player: Bruce Djite would be the first to admit his A-League season was pretty poor. The once prolific marksman struggled to get going and regularly spurned chances throughout the year, but playing in Asia has seemed to agree with him as he bustles and bullies his way past opposition defenders who can do little but foul him.

It-s Djite's ability to hold up the ball using his strength and power that has turned Adelaide to a threat and if he continues to work hard, they will continue to be a threat.

Key stat: Adelaide United have conceded less goals (two) than any other team in the AFC Champions League thus far. The only other team close going into the knockout rounds was Baniyas, who were then thumped 7-1 by Al Hilal.

Big issue: The issue for Adelaide is the same as it has always been: do they have the quality to go all the way?

There are other teams with more high-profile players in their ranks. Losing Daniel Mullen and his energy and ability to read the play at the back hurts, as will their inability to re-sign Marcos Flores.

The story so far: Group stage - def Bunyodlor 2-1, def Gamba Osaka 2-0, def by Pohang Steelers 0-1, def Pohang Steelers 1-0 drew with Bunyodkor 0-0, def Gamba Osaka 2-0.

Round of 16 - def Nagoya Grampus 1-0

Bunyodkor Overview: The biggest club in Uzbekistan have routinely sat atop their own local league in recent years, winning the past four national leagues and are on their way to a fifth straight title.

They have also enjoyed plenty of success in Asia, making the knockout stage at all four attempts, with their best effort coming in 2008 when they reached the semi-finals.

This season they had to win their final group game against Pohang Steelers just to make it through to the knockout stages, advancing along with quarter final opponents Adelaide United from Group E.

But while they are all-conquering at home they haven-t exactly been convincing in the ACL, squeaking through their matches and only got through against the out of sorts Seongnam 1-0 in the second round.

Key player: Bunyodkor-s Uzbek national keeper Ignatiy Nesterov has long been a favourite of home fans but on what we have been able to see of him lately he looks anything but a confident keeper, especially when the high cross is whipped in.

On his last few matches against Australian opposition he has looked uncomfortable coming for the cross, and hesitated before punching, and not always clearing, if he improves Bunyodkor will look better and he will have to because Adelaide love to bring the ball in high.

Key stat: Despite the aforementioned shaky keeping, the Bunyodkor defence has held firm and hasn-t conceded an AFC Champions League goal in their last 270 minutes.

Big issue: Will David Carney be back in the starting side? Carney looked to be on song when playing against Adelaide last time out, but he-s been riding the pine lately and the spark he can provide might be what his team needs.

The story so far: Group stage - def by Adelaide United 2-1, def Pohang Steelers 2-0, def by Gamba Osaka 3-1, def Gamba Osaka 3-2, drew with Adelaide United 0-0, def Pohang Steelers 1-0.

Round of 16 - def Seongnam 1-0