Following the drama of the midweek ACL Quarter Final decider with Bunyodkor and then travelling half way around the world to play their opening game of the Hyundai A-League season, Adelaide United FC arguably defied logic when they came away from Newcastle with all three points.
It is probably fair to assume that not too many would have predicted the final score line at Hunter stadium on Sunday after what the Reds had been through in the lead up going back to what unfolded on Wednesday night in Tashkent.
There was the question of fatigue and mental exhaustion, not to mention a vocal Novocastrian crowd hoping to see their team and new marquee signing Emile Heskey deliver.
But Coach John Kosmina believes all of the emotion from the extra time loss to Bunyodkor drove the players to want to succeed for each other, the club and its supporters after what they had been through.
“The thing about the game yesterday was that Wednesday was a really emotional experience for everyone,” Kosmina said.
“There were guys crying, and even thinking about it now it chokes me up a bit, it was such an emotional outpouring losing the way that we did after having fought for so long.”
“It actually brought the guys a lot closer together so I think there was a bit of momentum in that, which helped us get through yesterday.”
Kosmina also put the first up win down to the excellent physical condition of the players courtesy of the thorough and intricate fitness program laid out by Reds High Performance Manager Sean Tagg.
Despite only getting into Newcastle just over 24 hours before the game after the long journey back from Tashkent, albeit that it was helped when the Jets were reduced to ten men for the majority of the second half.
The injection of Nigel Boogaard, Marcelo Carrusca and Fabio Ferriera into the squad, the trio flying in from Adelaide after not being part of the travelling party in Tashkent, can also not be underestimated.
“I think the preparation beforehand has been good. When you’re fit you’re able to recover a lot better and I think we managed the players pretty well in terms of what we did after the game against Bunyodkor as well,” Kosmina said.
“When you’re in good nick it helps freshen you up a little bit.”
“I think the hardest thing now will be to pick them up for Friday night because now they’ve got a day and a half off.”
Mentally I think they’re stronger than they have been and physically they’re in fantastic condition, so we’ve just got to make sure we keep them tuned up and buzzing for Friday.”
The most pleasing aspect for Kosmina was the players’ approach to the contest, willingness to contribute, and their refusal to concede and decide that it would be easy to use the Uzbekistan journey as an excuse.
“The way we went about it…we took advantage of the opportunities that we had…we were rusty in patches but everyone did their jobs yesterday and that was the important thing,” Kosmina said.
The next challenge for this increasingly resilient Reds group will be whether they can bring the same attitude to Friday night’s opening home game of the season against new Hyundai A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers. A big crowd at Hindmarsh would certainly help the cause.
Tickets for the match are available through Ticketek.