Adelaide United FC’s squad is back into training with the players having no shortage of incentives for what is set to be a thorough and gruelling pre-season program.
Generally, pre-season campaigns are not the most enjoyable times of year for players, however the anticipation of an AFC Champions League Quarter Final on top of the upcoming Hyundai A-League season gives the Reds added motivation to hit the next ten weeks with a full head of steam.
After finishing a disappointing ninth last season, the determination to rise back up the table is arguably more than enough incentive for the Reds to hit the track hard, but with an AFC Champions League Quarter Final against Bunyodkor to look forward to on September 19, Coach John Kosmina believes this will spur the players on even more.
“It has been a good break. The time travelled really quickly but it’s good because we’ve got a fair bit in front of us, especially the 19th of September which is exciting,” Kosmina said.
“So it gives everyone a good carrot to dangle in front of them and gives the players plenty of incentive as well because it’s not just about the A-League.”
Pleasingly for Kosmina, every player in the Reds squad except for Jake Barker-Daish, who is on international duty with the Qantas Young Socceroos, began their pre-season with a series of tests and time trials this morning under the instruction of new High Performance Manager Sean Tagg.
Midfielder Osama Malik has recovered from a knee injury that kept him out of United’s last two AFC Champions League games before the break, and having 21 players out of a maximum 23 secured for season eight, Kosmina is relishing the chance to have a near full squad on deck from day one.
“The good thing is everyone is in together. From what I understand, last season players were turning up spasmodically and you couldn’t really get continuity, so the good thing is we all start on a level playing field,” Kosmina said.
“Pre-season is an opportunity to take a player out of his comfort zone in terms of the type of work you do, how you do it and how much you do, so it’s another way of looking at what’s inside someone mentally and on a more spiritual level as well.”
One of the Reds’ two remaining spots on the roster became vacant after the departure of defender Daniel Mullen to Chinese club Dalian Aerbin last week. However, Kosmina revealed his preference was on finding an attacking midfielder to bolster the squad rather than a replacement for Mullen.
“I’d like to find an attacking midfielder but I’m not going to dive in. We need to look at what’s available…you get a lot of YouTube footage but some of it is three or four years old, so you’ve got to be really careful,” Kosmina said.
“You’ve got to look at their condition, their fitness and you can’t judge personality on a DVD either, you need to actually meet the person to see what they’re like.”
“I think we’ve got more than enough to cover Daniel (Mullen) with what we’ve got,” Kosmina said.
“Daniel Bowles can play there, Cameron Watson played there last season, Fyfey has played as a right back in the past, Jon McKain has played as a right back as has Nigel Boogaard when he was at the Central Coast, so it’s not the most difficult position to cover, but having said that Daniel did a good job.”