Adelaide United FC’s AFC Champions League 2010 campaign may have come to an end at the hands of K-League champions Jeonbuk Motors, but coach Aurelio Vidmar could not fault his team’s effort in the defeat.
Dealing with last night’s shattering but gallant 3-2 extra time loss to Jeonbuk at Hindmarsh Stadium last night, Vidmar chose to reflect on the spirit the Reds showed to pull their way back from a goal down on two occasions, and take Korea’s best team of last year all the way for nearly 120 minutes.
“I was very proud,” Vidmar said.
“I thought they did a tremendous job under difficult circumstances. They were up against an extremely good side, the K-League champions, and I’m sure everyone who was at the stadium last night, could see what a great side they (Jeonbuk) were.”
“But we were very proud of the way our boys performed. A couple of times they were on the canvas but they got themselves up and back into the game, and that showed a lot of character, so I’m extremely proud of not only the way they performed last night but also the way they bounced back from the A-League and throughout this whole Asian Champions League campaign.”
Heading into half time a goal down, United drew level through Robert Cornthwaite on the back of some passionate support from over 12,000 fans.
Cornthwaite triggered a remarkable finale as Eninho netted his second to give the Koreans the advantage again in the 88th minute, before the Reds and Sergio van Dijk, playing on pure emotion, tied the scores up with less than 60 seconds to go in regulation time.
With players from both sides out on their feet, the match was heading for penalties before heartbreak struck United with just minutes of extra time remaining as Dong Gook Lee scored the winner.
“It’s a really bitter pill to swallow sometimes when you’ve made such a great effort to get yourself back in the game and try to win the game, and unfortunately we just came up a little bit short,” Vidmar said.
“You can’t fault them because they really went out there and gave everything they had.”
While the Reds said good-bye to the competition, the narrow defeat to the reigning K-League champions was by no means a disgrace, with Jeonbuk’s progression to the Quarter Finals making it four teams from Korea left in the final eight of the AFC Champions League.
“I thought it was just a great advertisement for the way we’ve gone about this game and also the way the game was played, I think the spirit of the game was tremendous,” Vidmar said.
“In the last two games we’ve gone toe to toe with Shandong and Jeonbuk and we haven’t come out winners, it’s such a fine line. What’s the right way to play…who knows, it’s just the way that you think you’re going to get the job done, and we decided to go toe to toe and it just shos you how difficult it is.”
The Reds’ squad will now take a deserved month long break before returning for pre-season training on June 14 in preparation for the start of the Hyundai A-League 2010/11 Season.
All players and coaching staff will be unavailable for interview until the squad returns for training on June 14.