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Valkanis on dual mission

Adelaide United may be playing their sudden-death preliminary final at home against a team that finished six points below them on the A-League table, but caretaker coach Michael Valkanis agrees his players are the underdogs.

The Reds clinched a top-four finish to secure a valuable home final but Valkanis said his team had already been ''written off'' by media pundits against the reigning champions on Sunday. The Roar have become the bookies' favourites to progress to the second week of the finals as the Reds won just one of their last seven games.

Valkanis believed the underdog tag sat well with his players' mental approach. ''We're happy with that tag,'' he said.

Sunday's do-or-die match will be Valkanis' best opportunity to stake his claims for the vacant coaching position for next season and beyond.

Star players Marcelo Carrusca and Cassio return to boost the Reds' chances of progressing as well as Valkanis' hope for getting the job.

Media reports on Thursday suggested that former Adelaide City and Perth Glory striker Damian Mori became the frontrunner for the coaching position after a board meeting on Tuesday night. However, Valkanis dismissed them.

''I was speculated to have a two-year contract two months ago, then last week I was speculated to have a two-year deal and Rado [Vidosic] was my assistant, so a lot is going to be said and I can't control that and to tell you the truth, I don't waste my time reading into that stuff,'' Valkanis said.