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Rivaldo vows to remain post ACL semis

Rivaldo vows to remain post ACL semis

World Cup winner Rivaldo has committed to fulfilling his contract at Uzbekistan club Bunyodkor regardless of the outcome of Wednesday's Asian Champions League semifinal against Australia's Adelaide United at Tashkent.
The 36-year-old Brazilian, a former world player of the year, signed with the Uzbek club on a 12-month deal last month and will need to play a pivotal role if Bunyodkor is to overturn a 3-0 deficit from its away match at Adelaide.
News reports in Brazil suggested Rivaldo would be leaving after the ACL semifinals, but he said he wanted to stay in Uzbekistan and help develop the football league.
"I have heard about these rumors but I am not going to leave now for Brazil," Rivaldo told the Asian Football Confederation's official web site. "I have played for the strongest clubs in Europe and my aim is to share my experience and knowledge with the local players."
Adelaide warmed up for the return leg with a 1-0 win over Queensland Roar in an A-League match on the weekend and is aiming to become the first Australian club into the ACL finals. Australia only joined the Asian confederation after the 2006 World Cup, after leaving Oceania.
Whoever wins in Tashkent, a Japanese rival is a certainty in the final.
Defending champion Urawa Reds, who beat Sepahan FC of Iran in last year's final, was 1-1 with J-League rival Gamba Osaka in the first leg.
Manager Gert Engels is hoping his lineup can rebound at Saitama from a shock home loss to Vissel Koba on the weekend, which dented its J-League title ambitions.
"We need to be critical now," he told the Kyodo news agency. "I need to tell (the players) that they are not worse than one week ago which is definitely so, and that they are not tired, which can be an excuse.
"We need to talk and be confident but we need also to realize that there is some pressure and responsibility to perform like we need to perform.
"I don't like to push them down now but everybody has the right to expect us to be hungry for goals, be hungry for wins and fight and show a team spirit as well. I am confident we can do this against Gamba."
Engles has some selection dilemmas with first-choice goalkeeper Ryota Tsuzuki and midfielders Hajime Hosogai and Takahito Soma missing the match due to suspensions after picking up yellow cards in each of their last two Champions League games.
Gamba had a 3-2 win over Urawa earlier in the J-League season and coach Akira Nishino is confident it can happen again.
"We can win the next game in Saitama. I and the players believe we can make the final," Nishino was quoted saying. "We're not scared of Urawa Reds. This team is not the Urawa Reds we're used to. They're not as strong as last year."
Bunyodkor added it to its playing stocks by luring Rivaldo to work with coach Zico, who was working in Japan last year.
Bunyodkor extended its lead in the domestic league following a weekend win but Zico's lineup must lift its goalscoring rate if it is any chance of progressing to the continental club championship and a shot at the Club World Cup in December.
Zico said his players had given away a big lead in the first leg, but it was not impossible to come back.
"Football is football and we have 90 more minutes. Many, many times I have seen a team change a result in a game and I hope that in Tashkent, it is possible for my team to get a win," Zico said. "It is important to play the 90 minutes with heart and emotion and put the ball in the net."
Adelaide United broke a goal drought in its win over Queensland, with Robert Cornthwaite _ who scored in the ACL quarterfinal win over Kashima Antlers in Japan _ scoring the South Australia state club's first away goal in six A-League matches.


Updated : 2021-10-17 04:31 GMT+08:00