Adelaide United reap rewards of unfamiliar strike pairing

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For only the second time this season, Adelaide United lined up with tall timbers George Blackwood and Hiroshi Ibusuki up front – and it paid dividends. 

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As the Reds locked in yet another finals campaign this season with their win over Brisbane Roar, Adelaide United’s head coach Carl Veart now must decide on his best starting 11 – in particularly who is playing up front. 

On Saturday, Veart opted for the pairing of Ibusuki and Blackwood for only the second time this season. 

“We tried Lachie Brook in that number 10 role last week and it didn’t quite work for us. So, we went with a different style tonight in George, and I thought George was excellent,” Veart said. 

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It is unusual to have two players of such size playing together up top. 

Ibusuki, who stands at 1.95 metres tall, along with Blackwood at 1.88 metres, combine for a formidable tandem in the box that is nearly impossible to stop when the ball is in the air. 

“We’ve done a lot of work over the last two, three weeks on our crossing, and our ball movement,” Veart said. 

“When we look over the course of the year, I think we’ve crossed the ball more than any other team, but we just haven’t made the most of that or made the most of Ibusuki’s presence in the box.” 

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Whilst the tall timbers become almost impossible to plan against as a coach, says Brisbane Roar head coach Warren Moon. 

“First and foremost, they’re both just good players,” Moon said. 

“Ibusuki showed us his class tonight. The build up from the first free-kick. I mean, he pulled it out of the sky on his chest, a great second touch and finished it.” 

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As we now head towards finals, the height and physicality that Adelaide possess up top can become their biggest weapon as the finals game pace quickens and chances become harder to create. 

Featured image credit: Jordan Trombetta

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Cameron Ottenhoff
Sport, media and communications student at Flinders University in Adelaide. I was forced to hang the boots up at a young age after discovering I'm no good at sport, so now I just talk about it instead.

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