x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Australians will be underdogs on and off the pitch

The Australian sides who are bidding to emulate Adelaide United's march to last year's Asian Champions League final have dampened expectations on themselves.

Adelaide reached the 2008 Champions League final.
Adelaide reached the 2008 Champions League final.

DUBAI // The Australian sides who are bidding to emulate Adelaide United's march to last year's Asian Champions League final have dampened expectations on themselves, claiming it will be like "an English League One club playing against Man United". Central Coast Mariners are the smallest club in Australia's A-League, yet they have qualified for the competition, along with Newcastle Jets, the second smallest.

The Mariners coach, Lawrie McKinna, believes the massive financial discrepancy will count against his side's chances when they face up against some of Asia's richest clubs. "We can't compete [financially], and we'll not try and compete," said McKinna, who played for Kilmarnock in Scotland before moving to Australia 22 years ago. "We will hopefully do our homework well, the same as Adelaide did They were in the same boat and shocked a few people.

"Some of the teams Adelaide played against last year were running budgets of US$70-80million (Dh257-293m). The complete turnover of A-League clubs is AUS$7m (Dh18m). It is mind-boggling. But underdogs sometimes win and a few of the sides will be wary of us because of what Adelaide did." The Mariners have been pitched in a group with Tianjin Teda, of China, Japan's Kawasaki Frontale, and Pohang Steelers from Korea.

The Jets face Ulsan Hyundai, from South Korea, Chinese side Beijing Guoan, and Japan's Nagoya Grampus Eight, the former club of Arsene Wenger and Gary Lineker. The Jets manager Gary van Egmont added: "Adelaide captured the imagination of the public throughout Australia. We are looking forward to getting involved." @Email:pradley@thenational.ae