Adelaide Utd touch down from Uzbekistan

October 24, 2008
By Steve Larkin

Adelaide United touched down on home ground but their players remain on soccer's cloud nine.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann and Sports Minister Michael Wright were among a crowd at Adelaide Airport on Saturday morning to welcome United home after their triumphant trip to Uzbekistan.

The Reds on Wednesday night won through to the lucrative final of the Asian Champions League in an achievement being hailed the greatest by a South Australian sporting club.

United coach Aurelio Vidmar was overwhelmed by the welcome home reception for his players, who will face Japan's Gamba Osaka in the two-legged final on November 5 in Japan and November 12 in Adelaide.

"It's unbelievable, we heard that there might be a few supporters turning up here, but to walk out and see so many fans, it shows us the fantastic support that we've got," Vidmar said.

"Certainly it is a fantastic moment for the club and everyone is really rapt to get into any final, let alone an Asian Champions League final, so we're really pleased and we'd like to go another step further if we can."

Vidmar said making the final was all the more significant given his club's scant finances and resources compared with their Asian rivals.

"With all the restraints in terms of the resources and what we we're up against, especially on this trip, to go there and look pretty comfortable for most of the game, it was probably the best one-nil loss we have ever had," Vidmar said.

"We were up against it but I was really proud with the way they rolled up their sleeves and put all the little problems that they had aside to focus and get the job done, so it was just a heroic effort from our players."

Captain Travis Dodd said the magnitude of the aggregate semi-final win over Uzbek outfit Bunyodkor had yet to sink in.

"It's hard because you don't really get a chance to think about it with all of the travelling, and then we've got another game tomorrow in the A-League, so we're always on the go," he said.