Sunday, March 31, 2013
Reds ready for A-League finals assault
By Justin Chadwick
Adelaide coach Michael Valkanis insists his side's hit-and-miss form won't mean a thing heading into Sunday's home elimination final against defending A-League champions Brisbane Roar.The Reds managed to finish in fourth spot despite winning just two of their past 11 games.Adelaide rounded out the regular season with a 1-1 draw against Glory in Perth, with Reds midfielder Jake Barker-Daish grabbing a 91st-minute equaliser after Adrian Zahra's 58th-minute strike.Valkanis described the fifth-placed Roar as one of the competition's form clubs, but said his own team's recent inconsistency didn't matter one bit."Everyone talks about this momentum. It's like the in-word at the moment for finals - you need momentum," said Valkanis, who was forced to take over as coach of Adelaide in January when John Kosmina quit the club citing a lack of trust."But it's a finals game. It's one-off, and things can change."I've learnt over my playing career that once the finals start, it means nothing."We fought right until the end to get that goal (against Glory), and even tried to get a second one."Going into the finals, that's the sort of mentality you want."The Reds will be boosted by the returns of Cassio, Marcelo Carrusca and Tomi Juric for the clash at Hindmarsh Stadium.Perth, who only scraped into the finals courtesy of a superior goal difference to Sydney FC, will take on Melbourne Victory in an away elimination final on Friday night.The Glory will welcome back Liam Miller from suspension, while star striker Shane Smeltz is a good chance to play despite still nursing a nasty gash on his forehead that could take up to six weeks to fully heal.Should Smeltz be unavailable, defender Dean Heffernan is likely to be deployed as a striker again following his brilliant effort against Adelaide.Heffernan created a glut of golden opportunities for his teammates, with his work rate and willingness to contest disputed balls the highlight.New Glory coach Alistair Edwards, who has guided his team to four wins and a draw from seven games in charge, said there were no limits on what Perth could achieve in the finals."We don't hold any fears," Edwards said."We've got some great players."And the way we are performing, we've got a bit of a swagger in the way the boys are playing."