x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Adelaide put faith in teenager

Adelaide United are pinning their hopes on 17-year-old goalkeeper Mark Birighitti to stop the Gamba Osaka attack in the second leg of the ACL final.

SYDNEY // Adelaide United are pinning their hopes on a teenage goalkeeper to give them any hope of overturning a 3-0 deficit against Japan's Gamba Osaka in Wednesday's second leg of the Asian Champions League final. Adelaide's first-choice keeper, Eugene Galekovic, will miss the match because of suspension, leaving the 17-year-old Mark Birighitti as the only recognised custodian in the squad. The Australians are confident they can score at home after netting three in last month's semi-final win over Uzkebistan champions Bunyodkur, but know they have to keep a clean sheet to have any real chance of an upset.

"We've just got to do the best with the numbers we have," the Adelaide coach Aurelio Vidmar said today. "We know it's a very difficult task but you've still got to believe anything's possible." Adelaide, the first Australian club to reach the Asian Champions League final, have been badly hit by injuries and suspensions in the lead up to the match, with only 15 fit players available for selection. Defender Angelo Constanzo is also suspended although midfielder Paul Reid is expected to be back after missing last week's match with an injury.

Vidmar said there was nothing the team could do about the players who were unavailable but he had urged his side to be more aggressive than in the opening leg. "That's life. Frank Sinatra sang that didn't he? And that's how it is," Vidmar said. "The players that are going in there are going to give everything they possibly can to try to reverse the result." Gamba Osaka's players arrived in Adelaide late yesterday and held a light training session today.

Coach Akira Nishino said his players had been instructed not to sit back on their lead and push for an early goal. "Three goals is a good advantage and to use this advantage to get the first goal is very important," he said. *Reuters