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Adelaide's Asian hopes soar

27 February 2012-SBS EXCLUSIVE: Philip Micallef

adelaide united afc champions league

On its way ... Adelaide is on the verge of getting the green light for another Asian tilt (Getty)

Adelaide United's Asian campaign is still on track after the Asian Football Confederation gave the clearest indication yet that the Reds will be allowed to play in the Champions League.

The club's Asian aspirations were thrown into disarray when it emerged that Brazilian fullback Cassio could have been ineligible to play in this month's qualifying play-off win over Indonesia's Persipura Jayapura.

Adelaide won 3-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium to earn the right to play in Group E of the 2012 competition along with Uzbekistan's Bunyodkor, Japan's Gamba Osaka and Korea Republic's Pohang Steelers.

The Reds are scheduled to meet Bunyodkor in Tashkent next week.

With the club in limbo and still not knowing if it will be allowed to compete in another Asian campaign, AFC sources told The World Game “Adelaide should be okay”.

AFC is expected to issue a press release this week announcing Adelaide will join Brisbane Roar and Central Coast Mariners in the blue riband event of Asian club football.

It is understood the only thing holding this up is the AFC's disciplinary committee, which has to make sure the governing body is legally covered in rubber-stamping Adelaide's participation.

Barring a last-minute change of heart from AFC, anxious Adelaide will be put out of its misery and be able to get on with its plans for Asia.

The AFC Champions League takes on a greater importance after Adelaide's almost certain failure to reach the A-League finals.

The club is still sweating on the AFC outcome and chief executive Glenn Elliott admitted the club was in the dark as to its prospects of playing.

”Look, there will be a match in Tashkent next week and we hope that we will be playing in it,” Elliott said.

”We're ready and more than happy to play. All we need is clarification.”

The problem arose after Cassio was sent off in the last minute of Adelaide's round of 16 match against Korea Republic's Jeonbuk Motors in May 2010.

The Reds lost 3-2 and did not play again in the competition until they were asked to face Persipura two weeks ago so the player never served the mandatory suspension.

Adelaide changed management in between the two matches so Cassio's dismissal was overlooked.

It could have been a costly blunder on Adelaide's part but AFC appears to have decided in favour of Adelaide, possibly for practical purposes.

Persipura, which is a member of Indonesia's rebel league, was originally barred from the competition but was reinstated after a Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in its favour.

The last thing the AFC now needs is to kick out Adelaide, reinstate Persipura again and then run the risk of having to ban it for the second time which would leave Group E with only three teams.

Agony ... Mariners keeper Liam Reddy shows his despair at John Hutchinson's late own goal (Getty)

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