Adelaide United will go into Friday night’s A-League semi-final against Perth Glory as rank underdogs, and they are looking to feed off it, according to elimination final hero Ben Halloran.
The winger’s 119th-minute goal against Melbourne City sent the Reds into the second week of finals, where they will face recently-crowned premiers Glory at HBF Park.
When assessing each consideration, all things point to what should be a comfortable Glory win in front of their own home fans with a first ever home grand final on the line.
United will go into the game on the back of just five days of rest and were forced to go the near distance against City at Coopers Stadium, so recovery will be crucial.
Glory rediscovered their goalscoring touch in their final regular season match against Wellington Phoenix at home, winning 5-0, and have since enjoyed a fortnight’s rest.
Halloran moved to shift the pressure onto Glory quickly, but insisted the match was not quite a ‘free hit’ for United, which could bring Marco Kurz’s tenure as coach to an end.
“The goal at the start of the season was to win the league, Perth’s undoubtedly the strongest team in the competition,” Halloran told a media conference.
“But I think going in as underdogs, we can use that. All the pressure’s on them.
“We don’t go there with nothing to lose because we still want to win the game, but carrying this feeling into the game is a really important thing for us.”
Fit-again striker Baba Diawara, who came off the bench for Adelaide in the 76th minute, had a crucial hand in the winning goal, holding up play and sliding a pass into Halloran’s path.
The Senegalese has featured for Adelaide just three times this campaign and is due to leave the club at the close of the season, but there remains time for him to have a major contribution.
Cruise 1323 announcer and Fox Sports caller Dom Rinaldo said Kurz should consider starting Diawara against Perth.
“Having Baba back for Adelaide I think is a huge, huge plus,” he said on Monday’s Daily Football Show.
“It will be interesting to see if he starts next week, because you know what? I would (start him).
“He (Kurz) has been reluctant because Baba hasn’t played a lot of games but he’s got the touch.
“It wouldn’t be a bad gamble to start him and see how he goes from the off because if they can get an early goal or two, it would make life very interesting.”