Adelaide United coach Aurelio Vidmar on Thursday likened his side clinching an historic Asian Champions League final berth with the Socceroos reaching the World Cup finals.
United guaranteed themselves a minimum $A1.34 million in future prizemoney when they became the first A-League side to reach the final of Asia’s top club tournament after a 1-0 second leg loss to Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor in Tashkent gave them a 3-1 aggregate victory in their semi-final.
It set up a clash with Japanese powerhouse Gamba Osaka in a two-leg final next month and also guaranteed Adelaide a start in the prestigious FIFA World Club Cup and $US900,000 ($A1.34 million) in prizemoney.
It’s a welcome payday for Adelaide, given the financial challenges posed to A-League clubs unlike many of their ACL opponents such as cashed-up Bunyodkor, who had splashed out $A14 million to sign Brazilian superstar Rivaldo.
“You look at it in terms of what the achievement means, it’s as high up there as when the Socceroos made the World Cup,” Vidmar said from Tashkent.
“Under so many difficult things, so many restraints.
“We know about the salary cap and all those sorts of restraints and the number of players that we can have.
“To get to the final under that much pressure and duress when things are not favouring a team like Adelaide United, shows that when you’ve got a good game plan and people who embrace what we’re trying to achieve and you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything.
“It’s a tremendous achievement for the club.”
Vidmar said Adelaide’s fairytale run would enable owner Nick Bianco and chairman Dario Fontanarosa to recoup some of the money they had put into the club.
“They’ve tipped in a lot of money into this campaign and I’m really pleased for them, because they are now able to reap a little bit of the rewards,” Vidmar said.
The win guaranteed Adelaide a berth at the FIFA Club World Cup in December, with a Japanese side already assured of a place because they are hosting the tournament.
The last placed team in that tournament receives $US500,000 ($A742,450) while the runner up of the ACL final receives $US400,000 ($A593,950) and the winner $US600,000 ($A890,930)
It means United get at least $A1.34 million and that could rise sharply for each position they climb in the Club World Cup, which offers $US5 million ($A7.42 million) to the winner.
If Vidmar’s side loses the ACL final, it will face New Zealand qualifiers Waitakere United in the qualifying round of the Club World Cup while a win would send them straight through to the quarter-finals.
They could then play against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney of Manchester United, who qualified for the tournament by winning last season’s European Champions League.
Vidmar said Adelaide could again expect to be underdogs against Osaka – who beat reigning Asian Champions Urawa Reds 4-2 on aggregate to qualify – when the sides meet in Japan on November 5 and in Adelaide on November 12.
“I’ve seen them a little bit, so I know they are extremely dangerous and speaking to (Bunyodkor coach) Zico, Gamba are an excellent all round team,” Vidmar said.
Vidmar said he would scrutinise DVDs of Gamba’s semi-final games and their two pool wins over Melbourne, while Victory coach Ernie Merrick today even offered to help his fellow A-League coach by providing “intelligence” before the match.
The club said fans were already queuing up for tickets to the second leg at Hindmarsh Stadium but ruled out moving the match from the 18,000-seat stadium to a larger venue.
Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley today praised Adelaide for leading the way in Australian football and said it was “one of the most significant achievements to date for an Australian club team.”
Tough scheduling means Adelaide must back up at home to Perth this Sunday despite not returning home until 8am Saturday morning.
“We have to front up on Sunday, it’s going to be tough but this group is really mature and they try to roll up their sleeve and get the job done and it’s another three points up for the taking,” Vidmar said.