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Mar 24, 2013

Reds not A-League finals pretenders: coach

Despite an ongoing slump, caretaker coach Michael Valkanis insists Adelaide United will be contenders, not pretenders, in the A-League finals.

The Reds will finish third or fourth but carry little momentum into their home elimination final on April 7.

An away trip to Perth this weekend will complete their regulation season, with United in a lean trot recording just three wins from their past 10 matches.

Valkanis says league leaders Western Sydney and second-placed Central Coast deserve their finals favouritism.

"The Mariners and Western Sydney are probably the fittest teams in the A-League - and the strongest, most physical," said Valkanis, who has two wins from eight games since John Kosmina quit as Adelaide coach in late January.

"And they play very similar in regards of the way they organise themselves, get numbers behind the ball, and they make it very hard for a team to break them down.

"I'm not concerned at being too much of a gulf of distance between us (and them)."

Valkanis said he would use Saturday's away clash with Perth Glory to get more game time into striker Bruce Djite and winger Fabio Ferreira, both on the comeback trail from groin injuries.

The Glory, sitting seventh, can secure their finals berth with a win.

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