Adelaide United captain Travis Dodd can’t wait for the challenge of the Asian Football Confederation Champions League quarter finals to begin but is also content with his team biding their time and building up confidence in preparation for a crack at making history.
The Reds find themselves in an unfamiliar position for Australian clubs and are on the verge of being the first Aussie club to progress past the quarter finals stage, but Dodd is not looking too far ahead as there are still important A-League matches to win.
He believes that the standard and pace of a regular A-League match is just as tough as an ACL match and told tribalfootball.com his thoughts when quizzed on the comparison in competitions.
“In the first year we initially thought there would be a massive leap but after a few games we realised we were good enough. It wasn’t until we dropped a few points that we started to improve but it was too late in the group stage.
“In the second year we were more confident although we came up against some teams who were technically better like the Chinese and Japanese, but what we lacked in technical ability we made up for with effort. We were more positive in the group stage after we realised that overall there is not a huge difference in standard.”
The Reds play Japanese outfit Kashima Antlers on September 17 in the first of a two-leg series so preparation for such an important match is paramount in today’s game but Dodd thinks that you shouldn’t become to focused on the big picture when other goals need to be met to get there in the first place.
“The coaching and fitness staff has had this in mind since the beginning of pre-season in terms of fitness for the matches. We only had a four week pre-season so it has been quite intense but mainly we are preparing how we normally would for A-League games with focus on building confidence to take into the two Champions League matches.
“There hasn’t been any focus on them (Kashima) as a team yet. Cristiano (Adelaide midfielder) played with one of the boys (Kashima’s Koji Nakata) in Switzerland (with FC Basel) so we will find out some inside info from him. We will focus more on them when it’s closer to the game though.”
Another challenge for Dodd is ensuring that the foreign members of the Adelaide squad are settled and focused but more importantly made to feel at home. This however is not a role he performs single-handedly, receiving assistance from team mates.
“It’s mainly the whole team. The good character of all the boys just accepts the new players.
“I know for me and Alemao (Brazilian recruit), we both play down the right side so I had to get to know him early and build a good relationship. It was hard with the language barrier because his English isn’t as good as the others but he has fit in really well.
“It’s just a whole team effort. We try to make sure they know the good places to live, give them advice, phone calls, just make them happy because if things are good at home and off the field they are going to come into the place and feel good and perform on the field.”
Dodd, being the complete team man that he is, managed to get some of his own time in the spotlight recently when he represented the club for the 100th time in Round 1 this season.
The occasion was made that much sweeter when he scored the only goal for the match, ensuring a Reds win and a fitting tribute to their skipper.
“That was a good feeling. It’s a good feeling to score any time but it was an achievement to play 100 games and was fantastic that it happened to be a win and a game I scored in.”
The task at hand is more important for Dodd and although the excitement of the Champions League is just over the horizon, the Reds have a job to take care of first.
“Now we just really have to capitalise on some good early form and got out and get a win this weekend.”