Preview: Pohang Steelers v Adelaide United

The last meeting between Adelaide United and Pohang Steelers ended with Pohang boss Valdermar Lemos slamming the Reds playing style after his side went down 1-0 at Hindmarsh to a Matthew Leckie wonder goal on match day one.

Date April 13
Kick-off:20:00 (AEST)
Venue: The Steelyard, Pohang, Korea

Previous Asian Champions League Appearances:
Pohang Steelers:
Champions 2009, Group Stage 2008

Adelaide United:
Runners-up 2008, Group Stage 2007

This Campaign
Pohang Steelers:
Adelaide United 1, Pohang Steelers 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide, February 24.
Pohang Steelers 2, Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1, The Steelyard, Pohang, March 10
Pohang Steelers 1, Shandong Luneng 0, The Steelyard, Pohang, March 24
Shandong Luneng 1, Pohang Steelers 2, Shandong Sports Centre, Jinan, March 30

Adelaide United:
Adelaide United 1, Pohang Steelers 0, Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide, February 24.
Shandong Luneng 0, Adelaide United 2, Shandong Sports Centre, Jinan, March 10
Adelaide United 3, Sanfrecce Hiroshima 2, Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide, March 24
Sanfrecce Hiroshima 1, Adelaide United 0, Big Arch Stadium, Hiroshima, March 30

The last meeting between Adelaide United and Pohang Steelers ended with Pohang boss Valdermar Lemos slamming the Reds playing style after his side went down 1-0 at Hindmarsh to a Matthew Leckie wonder goal on match day one.

Over a month later, the Reds travel to Pohang and face the Steelers at the Steelyard, a venue which has become a fortress of late in the AFC Champions League for the current champions.

Unbeaten in its last ten ACL matches at home, Pohang has recorded stunning victories at the venue, including a 6-0 thrashing of the Newcastle Jets and a dramatic extra time win against Uzbek club Bunyodkor – United’s semi-final opponent in 2008.

In fact, the last team to defeat the Steelers at the Steelyard was Adelaide in 2008, where it scored a 2-0 victory on match day one of that campaign.

The Reds hold a perfect record against Pohang, registering three wins from three meetings and having never conceded a goal against the K-League powerhouse.

Match day five pits the joint Group H leaders against each other in a battle that could ultimately determine who will go through to the round of 16.

A victory will guarantee the winner a place beyond the group stage while the loser could still miss out if results go against them and they fail on the last day of the group phase.

A draw will ensure both Pohang and Adelaide United progress to the second round, taking both teams to 10 points and holding an unassailable lead over Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Shandong Luneng, who currently both have three points.

But any notion of the two teams being in cahoots to take home a point each is nonsense with a lucrative, one leg home final in the round of 16 up for grabs.

United has been forced to make one change with reliable defender Iain Fyfe out through suspension, meaning former Central Coast Mariners defender Nigel Boogaard will come into the starting eleven for his first appearance in a Reds shirt.

Boogaard did get a run for United in a midweek trial match against his former club but this will be his first official match.

Reds boss Aurelio Vidmar hinted before his sides’ previous away trip to Sanfrecce Hiroshima that he would change some players to rest and refresh his squad but at the eleventh hour elected to go with the same starting eleven.

It is likely that Boogaard will be the only change, although Cassio’s performances as a substitute in the Reds previous two games would merit an inclusion into the run-on line up.

Star playmaker Marcos Flores was thwarted for most of the match against Sanfrecce with the Purple Archers double and triple teaming the Argentine. He was able to find some space late on for the Reds as they tried to steal an equaliser.

Pohang will no doubt be aware of how much United uses Flores to orchestrate its attacking movement and will have learnt their lesson from match day one.

By closing him down, the Steelers will go a long way to shutting down United’s attacking flow, much like Sanfrecce did on match day four.

The Steelers will also still be having nightmares about Leckie and his wonder goal from the opening round, and just how he managed to carry the ball 60 metres before scoring in dramatic fashion.

United has enjoyed a two week break after the short turn around between match day three and four.

The Red’s have again racked up some serious frequent flyer points after a 30-hour trip to Pohang in Korea.

The extended break should have United refreshed while significant recovery since touching down in Pohang on Saturday morning means Vidmar’s squad has every chance of overcoming any jet lag or fatigue.

They boys from Adelaide will also be pleased the conditions are not as icy as they were in Hiroshima, with the temperature matching that of the City of Churches.

Pohang is on the back of a nail-biting six goal thriller in the K-League against fellow ACL rival Jeonbuk Motors. The Steelers squandered a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3 against the team that either United or Pohang could meet in the round of 16.

Adelaide United
1. Eugene Galekovic, 2. Robert Cornthwaite, 3. Nigel Boogard, 5. Daniel Mullen, 6. Cassio, 7. Lucas Pantelis, 9. Sergio van Dijk, 10. Adam Hughes, 12. Paul Reid, 13. Travis Dodd (Captain), 14. Scott Jamison, 15. Francesco Monteroso, 16. Inseob Shin, 17. Michael Marrone, 18. Fabian Barbiero, 19. Matthew Leckie, 20. Mark Birighitti (GK), 22. Dane Milanovic, 23. Joe Costa, 24. Marcos Flores, 25. Evan Kostopolous, 26. Perry Mitris, 27. Adam Griffiths, 28. Matthew Mullen, 29. Joel Allwright, 30. Nick Munro (GK)

Pohang Steelers
1.Shin HWA YONG, 2.Park HEECHUL, 3.Kim KWANGSUK, 4.Okayama KAZUNARI, 5.Kim TAESU, 6.Kim GI DONG, 7.Kim JAESUNG, 8.Hwang JINSUNG, 9.ALEXANDRO, 10.MOTA, 11.Seol KIHYEON, 15.Cho HONGKYOO, 16.Kim JUNG KYUM, 17.Ko KIGU, 18.ALMIR, 20.Shin HYUNGMIN, 21.Song DONG JIN (Gk), 22.No BYUNGJUN, 23.Ryu CHANGHYUN, 24.Hwang JAE WON (c), 25.Jeong SEOK MIN, 26.Cho CHAN HO, 28.Song CHANGHO, 29.Choi HYUNYEON, 30.Jung JUNGSEUK, 31.Kim DASOL (GK), 32.Kim HYUNGIL, 33.Lee GIDONG, 37.Kang DAE HO, 40.Kim DAEHO