Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory may be bitter enemies, but Reds striker, Bruce Djite, is hopeful their Victorian rivals can do United a favour as the Hyundai A-League Premiership goes on the line this weekend.
The Reds – who take on fourth-placed Melbourne City on Friday night – are one of four clubs still in the hunt for the Premiers’ Plate as the Hyundai A-League’s regular season reaches a thrilling climax heading into Round 27.
Brisbane Roar (47 points) is currently first, one point ahead of Adelaide (46 points), with Western Sydney (45 points) a point further back followed by City (44 points).
If the Reds can topple City at AAMI Park on Friday night, it will heap the pressure on Roar, who take on Melbourne Victory at the same venue 24 hours later.
“We’ll be barracking for the boys in Navy Blue that’s for sure. But, like I said, let’s win (our) game first and then maybe a few text messages will go out to the Victory boys.
“A bit of, you know ‘come one boys, do us a favour’,” Djite told reporters on Tuesday.
“This is the most crucial game of the season for us. It’s the business end where the real big games start to present themselves.
“We’re lucky in our team that we have fantastic characters, players who are used to playing in these scenarios, these big games, and that experience will be priceless come Friday night.
“It’s not hard to stay calm. The experience of last season helps with that,” the 29-year-old added.
- Djite is in great goal-scoring form, with eight in his last 10 matches in the Hyundai A-League.
- Adelaide hasn’t beaten Melbourne City this season, including a 1-0 loss at Coopers Stadium last month.
“We were there or thereabouts last season as well and we let it slip a few times.
“With that experience and the benefit of having relatively the same squad, we’ve been there, we know what it takes, and we know we’re going to have to put our best foot forward on Friday night to get the result.”
If the Reds were to beat City and end the regular season with the Premiers’ Plate, it would cap off a stunning turnaround from bottom to top.
The club was languishing in last spot with just three points after going the opening eight rounds without a win.
But Guillermo Amor’s side has won 13 of their last 18 games (with just one defeat) to sit on the cusp of their first Premiership since the 2005/06 campaign.
“It was a slow start from us, no one expected it. But we kept believing in what we were doing,” Djite said.
“The message has always been the same, nothing has changed, the attitude’s the same. It’s about working hard, playing as a team and getting good results.
“We sort of have to take a step back now and realise that we haven’t done nothing yet. If we don’t win against Melbourne City this weekend then all the hard work could almost be for nothing.
“We don’t want to rely on other results, we really want a top two finish and to ensure that, we have to win.
“What happens with Brisbane and Melbourne Victory, we can’t control. You’ve got to control the controllables, especially in elite sport and that’s what we’ll try and do.”
“Confidence is high. We’re not over confident, the coach never gives us that opportunity,” he added.
“It’s important to stay level headed, recognise the situation we’re in, we’re in a good spot now and it’s important to try and capitalise on that.”
Adelaide United will face Melbourne City in Round 27 of the Hyundai A-League 2015/16 season on Friday, 8 April at AAMI Park. Kick-off is at 7.10pm ACST.