If it wasn't for the team's spectacular revival in the A-League this season, Adelaide United players might still be in the foetal position after their crushing loss in the mid-week AFC Champions League qualifier.
By
Greg Prichard

14 Feb 2016 - 8:56 AM  UPDATED 14 Feb 2016 - 8:56 AM

Carrusca shoulders blame for Adelaide's night to forget
A distraught Marcelo Carrusca owned up to his share of the responsibility after Adelaide United were bundled out of the 2016 AFC Champions League by China's Shandong Luneng.
Adelaide's ACL dream ended by 10-man Shandong Luneng
Adelaide United's dreams of qualifying for the 2016 AFC Champions League are over after the Reds were beaten 2-1 by Shandong Luneng, who were reduced to 10 men, in their play-off clash at Coopers Stadium on Tuesday night.

Adelaide star Craig Goodwin told The World Game that coach Guillermo Amor and captain Eugene Galekovic addressed the team in the dressing room after the 2-1 loss to Shandong Luneng on Tuesday night, with the aim of immediately shifting the focus.

"It was very quiet in the room after the game," Goodwin said. "We're all professionals, we're all winners, and it's very disappointing when you lose a game like that.

"Probably the only thing that was said after the game, by the coach and the captain, was along the lines of 'look, boys, we know it's disappointing, but we've turned our season around in the A-League and we have something really good to be able to do there'.

"They made the point that we can't dwell on the loss, we have to look forward to our next game in the A-League and the remaining eight games after that."

That next game is against Central Coast Mariners at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday evening - after the afternoon kick off was delayed due to extreme heat - and it is a potential banana-skin game if ever there was one. The Mariners rock bottom but they have put on the odd good show recently and if the opposition is down they will sense it.

Mariners determined to salvage season
Central Coast Mariners players and coaches have met to thrash out a plan aimed at making the last nine rounds of the competition count for something.
Mariners cap Luis Garcia's starting debut at about an hour
Central Coast Mariners coach Tony Walmsley said marquee player Luis Garcia will likely contribute about 60 minutes before being subbed off in his starting debut against Adelaide United on Sunday.

When it was suggested to Goodwin that if it were Adelaide last - instead of sixth, where they are - the players might still be feeling like they had been kicked in the guts even now as a result of Tuesday's loss.

"Exactly," he said. "So, you know, it's great that we have turned our season around and we have been playing well and it puts us in a position now where we have to put everything we've got into keeping that going. If we can do that, we'll be well placed on the table come finals time.

"We had a lot of chances to level the scores and perhaps even go ahead in the second half against Shandong. We missed a penalty, I missed two chances I probably should have scored from - we had good chances throughout the second half.

"But the opportunity is gone now and fortunately we have our campaign in the A-League to turn our attention to, starting with the Central Coast game.

"We have to continue our good run in that competition. We turned our season around from our poor start to now and we can't let this loss in the ACL get us down and get in the way of us building on what we've done.

"The mood at training in the last few days has been good. Everyone has turned their attention to the Mariners game. Whenever you get a disappointment you have to channel that frustration into something positive and I think that's what we'll do with the rest of our games this season."

Adelaide was winless after eight rounds with just three points but have gone unbeaten in the 10 rounds since, winning seven times. They are on 27 points with a win against the Mariners lifting them above Melbourne City, Melbourne Victory (both 29 points) and Sydney FC (28 points).

"When these opportunities arise it's up to us to take them," Goodwin said.

"We play Victory next week as well, so if we were able to go win-win against Central Coast and them it would put us in a really good position to push higher up the table."