Sabtu, 20 Desember 2008


A pre-Christmas cracker from Brazilian striker Cristiano has given Adelaide United FC a fifth place finish in the FIFA Club World Cup as The Reds defeated African champions Al Ahly 1-nil at the Yokohama international Stadium.

Cristiano’s 7th minute bomb from outside the penalty area gave United the ideal start to the match and despite spending extended periods of the match defending their lead, The Reds held on against the Egyptians to claim an impressive victory.

The result was a pleasing finale to the tournament for United, who finished with two wins and a loss in their three games, Coach Aurelio Vidmar stating after the match that The Reds’ effort to finish fifth would do wonders for the game back in Adelaide and Australia.

“The tournament has been a terrific vehicle for the promotion of our game back home and it has been a tremendous experience for our club and it is very pleasing that the boys were able to fight it out tonight and get the right result,” Vidmar said.

“By finishing fifth and with our experience in the Asian Champions League, it has really lifted the profile of the game in Australia and it hopefully gives a lot of confidence to the other A-League clubs that they can do well in the Asian Champions League to get to this point.”

“It has been a tremendous ride which hasn’t been easy but we’ve learnt a lot from playing these games and it certainly puts the cub and the game on the map back home. When you win games at this level it lifts people’s eyebrows and awareness of what the football can and will be like in the future.”

In near perfect playing conditions, after failing to score in 90 minutes against Gamba Osaka, it took just 7 minutes for The Reds to open their account against Al Ahly when Cristiano put in his bid for goal of the tournament, unleashing a rocket into the top right hand corner from 23 metres, giving Al Ahly keeper Amir Abdelhamid no chance. The dream start for and Adelaide side who had come to play as they displayed quick, crisp passing in the lead up, Cristiano providing a finish to match.

More early United pressure nearly saw them go two up inside 10 minutes, Paul Reid chipping a ball into the box and Sasa Ognenovski’s lunging header being just kept out by the hand of Abdelhamid.

Michael Marrone in action against Al Ahly. 
Koji Watanabe © Getty Images United continued to play with creativity going forward, and in the 14th minute Cristiano went close to scoring his second as he tried to finish off some good build up play involving Diego and Robert Younis, however the Brazilian’s toe poke just missed the left upright.

In the 24th minute Adelaide United was struck a blow when Diego, who had been prominent up to that stage, came off injured, forcing Vidmar to change his game plan as he brought on Jonas Salley.

Diego’s absence allowed the Egyptians to start to control more of the game as they tried to get back on even terms, their best chance of the half coming in the 41st minute when Flavio found the side netting with a fierce header.

After the break, National Youth League signing Michael Marrone was given his first taste of action, replacing and injured Daniel Mullen in the 55th minute, Vidmar giving another of his youngsters time on the big stage after Osama Malik made it on the field in the Quarter Final last Sunday.

The Reds were being made to defend for further periods in the second half as the Egyptians continued to toil away in search of an equaliser. Vidmar brought Malik on for Younis with 15 minutes to go as United were working hard to keep their lead in tact.

The Reds were keeping their shape well at the back, giving Al Ahly little time and space in attack, although keeper Eugene Galekovic was forced into a fine save in the 83rd minute.

Al Ahly were trying anything to get back into the match, Hussein Yasser receiving a yellow card for diving as he tried to win a free kick just outside the United penalty area. As time was running out, the game continued to be played in The Reds’ half of the pitch with Al Ahly looking for a way through.

But United held firm, accounting for the three minutes of added time and Adelaide United FC could boast fifth place in the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup plus a handsome financial reward.

“I certainly think the first 30 minutes was some of the best football that we’ve played in the tournament,” Vidmar said in his assessment of the game.

“We scored a fantastic goal, Cristiano could have had a second not long after that, but as soon as Diego came off, it really hurt our rhythm and the dynamics of the way we want to play and it became evident that we started to struggle to keep the ball and that was the case again in the second half.”

While Al AHly had the better of the play in the second half, Vidmar praised his players’ resilience in being able to hang on to the result.

“It doesn’t help when you have to substitute two players who are injured but I was really proud of the way the players rolled up their sleeves and fought for as long as they could because Al Ahly played some very good football in the second half.”

The squad will depart Japan tomorrow night before arriving in Adelaide at 11.25am on Saturday 20 December, as the focus turns back to the Hyundai A-League and a match against Perth Glory in Perth on Boxing Day.


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