For over 50 years Europeans have feasted on midweek continental club football. Last night’s pulsating Asian Champions League matches again confirm the fantastic potential of Asian continental club football to satiate the appetites of Australia’s football fans.
With the A-League season coming to a close and the finals around the corner, the ACL is providing a tasty counterpoint to our football palates as we watch our representatives take on some of Asia’s best clubs.
Adelaide United, yet again, admirably disrespected their abysmal home season and put on another fantastic performance.
Gamba Osaka, their 2008 ACL Final tormentors, were embarrassingly defeated 2-0. They were put to the sword by the rampant Reds at Hindmarsh Stadium.
The decline of Gamba Osaka was startling to behold. Their form leading into last night’s match was abysmal to say the least and their laboured, hesitant performance was a sorry testament to their current situation.
But this should not detract from Adelaide’s exceptional performance.
Tactically, John Kosmina has the team playing to their strengths. The Japanese made the crowded Adelaide midfield look as difficult to navigate as the Bermuda triangle.
Gamba’s brittleness and lack of application was exposed by Adelaide’s desire and robustness as they folded badly when dealing with set pieces.
Bruce Djite’s superb performance as a lone striker was aided by a supporting cast of the two feeble Gamba central defenders.
With six points already in the bag after two matches, Adelaide United are well placed to top the group. It makes what seemed like an impossible run to the ACL final now seem merely improbable.
The only disappointing aspect was the low attendance of 5112 at Hindmarsh Stadium.
I can only assume that jaded Adelaide United fans feared the worst. Let’s hope the Reds get five figures when Pohang Steelers come to town on April 18 as their performances in the ACL warrant it.
Meanwhile, over in China, Brisbane Roar garnered their first ever ACL point in a hard fought draw against Beijing Guoan.
Brisbane was excellent in the first half and if not for a diabolical piece of defending, when they conceded an early goal, should have gone into the break with a handy lead.
In the end Ange Postecoglou would be satisfied with the point as Beijing Guoan, spurred on a by a large parochial crowd, improved in the second half to make it a great contest.
It was not all positive for the Roar, as, Mohamed Adnan looked 20 degrees out of his comfort zone and Thomas Broich turned up slightly out of tune.
With Ulsan Hyundai and FC Tokyo drawing in the other Group F match, Brisbane are only three points from top spot. A good result away to Ulsan in their next match will leave them handily placed to nab a top two spot to progress to the knockout phase.
Unlike Hindmarsh Stadium, the match at Beijing’s Workers Stadium was played in front of over 40,000 enthusiastic fans.
It looked like an important sporting event and shows the true potential of the competition if the ACL is truly embraced.
Athas Zafiris is on Twitter @ArtSapphire