Thursday, February 25, 2010

Anti-football earns Adelaide victory

Adelaide United's win over Pohang Steelers in the first round of group games in the Asian Champions League will undoubtedly have the A-League apologists scrambling to heap more criticism on national team coach Pim Verbeek.

How, they will say, can Verbeek be so dismissive of the league when the team that finished bottom of this year's standings has just handed the Asian champions a 1-0 defeat in the ACL? If you look at the result only, then that's a fair question.

But according to the match statistics, the thoughts of Pohang coach Waldemar Lemos and independent observers who were at the game, the manner in which Adelaide achieved the win did little to enhance the league's reputation.

Adelaide's defensive, spoiling tactics allowed them to disrupt the flow of the game and Lemos was understandably irked. Having watched Melbourne's loss to Beijing Guoan on the previous evening, the Brazilian spotted similarities in the approach of both A-League teams.

"I wanted to play offensively when we went a goal down but they did not let us,” he said. “There were a lot of fouls. I know Australia's style but I don’t like this."

Adelaide do deserve to be congratulated because, whether they played negatively or not, they picked up the win they wanted to start their ACL campaign.

And they did so with head coach Aurelio Vidmar relegated to the position of assistant thanks to the AFC's misguided - if correct to the letter of the law - move to enforce their regulations relating to coaching certificates (never mind that Vidmar took his team to the final of the ACL in 2008 - when there was no mention of his lack of the AFC A license - and was named AFC Coach of the Year at the end of the same season).

But will this kind of football be enough to guarantee success for the Australian clubs in this year's ACL? It's doubtful - and this one result is unlikely to change Verbeek's opinion.

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