A triumph by any means of the word

Much was speculated about the trip to Osaka. From the flights to the game plan to the opposition – if it was all to be believed we would have been chasing the impossible victory.

Adelaide United CEO Glenn Elliott provides an insight and a few facts about the journey... Much was speculated about Adelaide United's challenging trip to Osaka for its latest ACL match. The trip, the game plan, the opposition - if it was all to be believed we would have been chasing the impossible victory.

Travel from behind the scenes Put yourself in this sporting position - you spend 24 hours travelling to a new place where you don't speak the language, don't know the customs, don't eat the food and don't know your way around. That was the challenge United-s travelling party confronted in Osaka. Meticulous preparation and a willingness to accept the challenge confronting us allowed us to succeed.

The Trip Our preferred travel company and official travel sponsor, Jetset Travel Glynde, through Rick and John, provided a fantastic itinerary to a difficult destination given the team-s requirements for the match. Adelaide to Kuala Lumpur with a stopover was no issue as the players all had access to a private room with dinner included at a five star hotel on site at the airport. A late night connection to Osaka followed with a one hour bus trip to the hotel.

The Hotel We experienced a two hour delay upon arrival after which every aspect of our stay was first class. Meals and service were first class, and proximity to the Gamba training facilities and match stadium certainly justified not being in the city centre itself - after all, the team was there to play a game, not on a social visit.

Training The squad trained on Monday afternoon, having arrived in Osaka that morning. Any significant fatigue was nowhere to be seen, the sheer joy at being able to utilise such high quality facilities obvious to all. In fact, on that training alone it was evident that the players- confidence grew. From there it only got better when the team had access to the Expo -70 Stadium on Tuesday morning. Kossie and the players could not have asked for better training facilities.

The Match Playing a premier team such as Gamba Osaka is full of uncertainty, particularly as they had no chance of qualifying for the next stage. Much was made of whether they would ‘rest- a host of their big names but even with that being the case, the quality of the players that did run out proved these clubs have depth that Australian clubs can currently only dream about. But all credit to our players, the fantastic attitude evidenced at every moment of the trip was there for all to see come game time. The commitment of the players in taking ownership of the coach-s plans epitomised the disciplined approach the team has had throughout this ACL campaign.

The Crowd Just over 7,000 dedicated Gamba fans attended the match. The number may have disappointed some but it certainly makes Adelaide's crowd numbers impressive in comparison to population. Colour, drums, singing - Gamba fans bring it to every game. And the respect shown to both their own and our players was great to see. Despite the fact their side lost, many in the crowd were extremely generous in their applause for our boys. Likewise, after the match when our team bus was leaving, a number of their supporters continued to applaud.

Gamba the Club Adelaide United was privy to guided tours through all Gamba-s facilities - and what a place it is! Some 34 staff are spread over two levels of office/facility space. The club has an intense junior and academy program, three training pitches for the seniors alone and plans for a new 40,000 seat stadium. The game apart, Gamba Osaka was the consummate host.

Team effort Much has been said about the performance, and quite rightly so, but to the people who helped make it happen:

  • From the Sunday when we left to the Friday morning when we returned, all credit must go to Football Director Michael Petrillo who co coordinated the trip and liaised with Gamba to ensure all went smoothly. From getting a travelling party of 21 through international airports, to on ground travel, training venues and satisfying strict ACL media commitments was indeed a massive challenge.
  • The medical staff had to bring everything - all the essentials, massage tables and the like. Richard Noble [Doctor], Peter Chitti [Physio] and Peter Duke [Trainer] did not miss a beat. They simply do not get down time on these trips as players need attention outside the actual training sessions. And the players' apparel, Jarrad [Property] had to organise four full sets of gear, 20 ACL approved balls, drinks, as well as organise the washing of apparel between sessions. No shopping trips for these people.
  • Very little English is spoken in Osaka so an interpreter was critical. To that end we had Yoshi ..... formerly from Hiroshima but now living in Adelaide, as our saviour. He carried us through all our issues which included essential Japanese customs, issues with currency, food and the like. His most formidable challenge was to host the players for three hours on a shopping expedition on Tuesday afternoon. Imagine trying to keep 16 players together in a city of four million people in a shopping arcade stretching 2.6km! Won't go into details - suffice to say all returned.

    There was certainly more to this success that the named 15 players, the efforts of the seemingly invisible others was pivotal in the result.

    Credit where credits due South Australia should be enormously proud of the cub-s coaches, players, medical and support staff for this special achievement of reaching the last 16 teams in the AFC Champions League. Incredibly under resourced compared to our opponents, nothing changes in the next winner takes all match in the Round of 16. Nagoya Grampus has it all and we again will start underdogs, but dare to dream, this courageous group deserves the State's support. After all, Adelaide United is OUR TEAM OUR STATE.

    We need your support Hindmarsh is the spiritual home of football/soccer in South Australia. The players will bring commitment and courage when the time comes - will you do the same? We all understand the enormity of the challenge, but have earned the right to host this knockout fixture next Tuesday night. Now it is up to South Australia to prove it is a parochial and proud state and support its team. Hindmarsh can be one of two things for the visitors: a) Another quality pitch to play on OR b) a quality pitch but a daunting crowd to pay in front of. We would love to see you there on May 29.