‘Disappointed’ with Adelaide United’s fifth-place finish, Reds captain Stefan Mauk says his side can make amends in the A-League finals series.
Regular season success against the A-League’s top two teams has Adelaide United confident of winning the championship from fifth spot on the ladder.
The Reds’ begin the finals campaign with a sudden-death clash against Brisbane Roar at Dolphin Stadium on Sunday.
Win that, and Adelaide will meet either premiers Melbourne City or second-placed Sydney FC the following weekend for spot in the June 26 grand final.
And having beaten both City and the Sydneysiders this season, the Reds are backing themselves to go on a successful three-week run needed to be crowned champions.
“At the start of the season you set out to make the finals,” Adelaide captain Stefan Mauk said.
“I believe we should have finished a little bit higher, and that’s disappointing, but we believe we can beat anybody on the day and we’re very confident going into the finals.
“We’ve beaten Sydney FC and we’ve beaten Melbourne City who are the top two teams.
“It’s more challenging. You have to play the first final to get to a semi-final, but we’re more than happy to play and going up to Brisbane’s going to be a great game.”
Mauk is former Roar midfielder who left Brisbane last season to rejoin the Reds.
“They’re obviously a good team, they’ve made the finals … they’re going to work hard and be very well organised,” Mauk said of the Roar.
“But we know we are more than capable of beating them as we showed when we were here.”
Adelaide defeated Brisbane 1-0 at Coopers Stadium last month but when the teams met at Dolphin Oval in January, the Roar won 3-1.
“We just need make sure we’re on top of our game and everyone’s understanding of the game plan and we’ll have no problems.”
In this weekend’s other elimination final, the Central Coast Mariners host Macarthur FC on Saturday night in Gosford.
A-League commissioner Greg O’Rourke predicted an exciting finals series.
“I can’t tell you who the winner will be, but I can guarantee you that whichever team emerges on top by the end of the grand final will have fought every step of the way and be a deserving champion,” O’Rourke said.
“There have been so many hurdles we have had to get past in these pandemic-affected times, but the quality of the football, the levels of excitement and the number of players who have burst on to the scene this season have been unbelievable, and I have loved seeing players and fans giving their all at every stadium in the league over the past few months.”