Reds to extend unbeaten run

Adelaide United will be looking sew up a place in the ACL’s Round of 16 when it takes on Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

A fired-up Adelaide United will be looking sew up a place in the ACL’s Round of 16 when it takes on Sanfrecce Hiroshima at Hindmarsh Stadium on Wednesday night.

A win for the Reds would extend their perfect start to the campaign and all but sow up a place in the next round beginning in May.

Sanfrecce, though, is staring at an early exit from the competition after losing its first two fixtures.

The Purple Archers were knocked off at home in their first ACL match this campaign by Shandong Luneng in a 1-0 result before the Pohang Steelers got their campaign back on track with a 2-1 win at home to the Japanese side.

Sanfrecce lies at the bottom of Group H and is yet to register a point, but will be buoyed by its recent domestic form where the club recorded two consecutive wins in the J-League, defeating Vissel Kobe 2-1 and Shonan Bellmare 3-1.

That sort of form has seen Sanfrecce make a good start to its domestic campaign where the club currently sits in second position on the J-League ladder.

The J-League outfit will look to its star striker and captain, Hisato Sato to try and unlock United’s defence, which is yet to concede a goal in this competition.

Sato has been in sensational form early in the domestic season for Sanfrecce, leading the goal scorers with three goals, a goal a game.

The lightly built striker, who has made over 30 appearances for his country since 2006, found the back of the net 15 times last J-League campaign and could prove a handful for the Reds’ defence.

Mihael Mikic will also be one to watch after an illustrious career in his homeland of Croatia. The flying winger won six league titles with Dinamo Zagreb as well as representing his country in the youth system.

Sanfrecce’s Serbian born, Austrian citizen boss, Mihalio Petrovic also enjoyed a reputable career after playing for some of the Balkan’s top clubs such as Red Star Belgrade (Serbia) and Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia).

As Sanfrecce’s coach, Petrovic gained promotion from the J2 after winning the second division title before the club finished fourth in the top flight last year.

United look likely to start with the same line-up that played against Shandong if a mid-week hit out with Central Coast is anything to go by.

In the Mariners’ clash, coach Aurelio Vidmar fielded 10 of the 11 that started against Shandong, the only exception being rested skipper Travis Dodd, who was replaced by Cassio.

United, though, will need to be switched on from the kick-off, after being shaky in the a cagey first quarter hours of the previous ACL fixtures. Both Pohang and Shandong dominated the Reds in the first 15 minutes and threatened to strike early.

Once Adelaide survived those opening onslaughts, it went on to post impressive wins, but Sato could be the first man this campaign to break United’s defence.

Adelaide’s attacking quartet of Sergio van Dijk, Marcos Flores, Dodd and Matthew Leckie have been outstanding for the Reds, with Leckie’s form in the front third producing two goals in as many a matches.

Van Dijk opened his Adelaide United account against Shandong while Flores enjoys showcasing his sublime passing game.

Add to the mix Lucas Pantelis, who loves to get forward, a solid defence yet to concede a goal and the Hyundai A-League’s back-to-back Goalkeeper of the Year Eugene Galekovic, and it appears United are primed to make an impact in the ACL once again, with a win over Sanfrecce possibly setting the Red’s on the path to the next round.