Do or die for Dodd

Adelaide United captain Travis Dodd has all but put the disappointment of finishing with the wooden spoon in the A-League behind him, saying the Reds place in the Round of 16 in the AFC Champions League is justified.

Adelaide United captain Travis Dodd has all but put the disappointment of finishing with the wooden spoon in the A-League behind him, saying the Reds place in the Round of 16 in the AFC Champions League is justified.

The fleet-footed winger said the Reds deserve to have progressed from the group stage and all their hard work is finally paying off.

Dodd paid tribute to the way his team-mates have banded together and applauded the squad’s character in turning their fortunes around.

“It’s been a very long year, no doubt about that, after a very disappointing A-League campaign,” Dodd said on Tuesday.

“It has been a lot of hard work to get where we are now in the Champions League. I think we’ve earned our spot here and we’ve certainly put in the work at training and the squad has come together well.”

“We’ve showed a lot of character throughout the campaign to top the group and our season ends with a game tomorrow night and it would be a fantastic way to finish and turn around our season with a win.”

Win or lose, United will enjoy a month of ‘annual leave’ before returning to training mid June in preparation for the upcoming A-League season, and hopefully ACL quarter finals action in September.

“It would be a perfect way to end the season. We’d love to go into the break knowing we’re going into the quarter finals in September.” Dodd said.

The speedster admitted their preparation had remained the same despite the do-or-die result with the Reds working hard in the attacking third.

Dodd said that the overall performance so far from United in the ACL has put the squad in good stead for the round of 16 match against Jeonbuk Motors.

The captain said he believes United’s shape and formation needs little adjustment.

“For us, preparation is not much different, we’re playing at home and we’re grateful for that,”

“It is do or die, so we know we have to sharpen the pencil so to speak in front of goal. It’s been letting us down a little bit the last couple of games but we’re confident we’ve worked on enough things at training to rectify that and hopefully come tomorrow night we’ll be on the ball and pick up the win.”

“Our shape and our formation has been pretty good over the campaign and we’ve been working on things during the week. I think it’s been working well for us and at this stage we’re positive with our mentality.”

After United’s last home game, a 0-1 loss to Shandong Luneng, where the visitors used time wasting tactics to their advantage, the Reds captain said it’s all part and parcel of playing football in Asia, saying he hopes an early goal against the Greens will avoid the ‘un sportsman’s-like’ strategy.

“It’s a side of the game that we have to come to terms with. We’ve been in previous ACL campaigns where we’ve encountered it before,” he said.

“Yes it is frustrating but we’re confident that the referee will be on top of it. We just have to make sure we score goals and we’re winning so they won’t be looking to waste time.”

United stand-in coach Joe Mullen expressed his delight at playing the round of 16 match in Adelaide and he urged all Reds supporters to swamp Hindmarsh Stadium in numbers in a bid to intimidate the visitors.

He said the match was a chance for the players to repay the United faithful and the City of Churches as a whole for the support shown to the club during the last season.

“We are at home, we need to get involvement with our crowd and make it as intimidating for Jeonbuk as possible,” he said.

“The support from the public has been good, the coverage from the media has been excellent and I know the team, I know the squad, I know the whole club would like to repay that tomorrow night and get a win and go to the quarter finals later this year.”

Mullen added that it was unfortunate United will be without the explosive talent of Matthew Leckie, who is serving a one match suspension, but believes whoever comes into the eleven in his place will provide a more than adequate replacement, although midfielder Paul Reid is also under an injury cloud.

“We’ll miss Leckie, he’s good and his pace is phenomenal and we’ve seen that over the first six games of the ACL,” Mullen said.

“The player that will come in to replace Matthew is quick and we see that as an advantage for us that we have got quick players in our front third.”

“Paul Reid has a slight strain of the abductor and he’ll have a test tonight. It is fair to say that he is doubtful.”