Mariners the first focus

All of the excitement surrounding the Reds may be on Tuesday night’s match against Gamba Osaka, but Bruce Djite is fully aware there is some other business to take care of first.

All of the excitement surrounding the Reds may be on Tuesday night-s match against Gamba Osaka, but Bruce Djite is fully aware there is some other business to take care of first.

As the squad enjoyed a run on the sand and some beach cricket at Henley Beach, Djite told of how important it is that the Reds do not look too far ahead just yet.

Before the highly anticipated return of Gamba Osaka to Hindmarsh Stadium for the first time since they claimed the AFC Champions League title over Adelaide United in 2008, the Reds must front up against the Hyundai A-League leaders, the Central Coast Mariners, in Gosford on Saturday.

The Hyundai A-League finals may be out of reach for the Reds, but Djite said they still wanted to put in a good showing on the domestic front before turning all of their attention on the Japanese club.

“Obviously everyone is looking forward to playing Gamba but I think it-s important to keep the games in front of us and the next game is against the Central Coast, we-ve got to jump that hurdle first and then worry about Gamba,” Djite said.

“It (the game against the Mariners) will be a great dress rehearsal to next Tuesday and we may be out of the finals but we-re still playing for points and playing for pride in the A-League.”

Although the Mariners might be the Reds- most immediate challenge on Saturday, it is easy to understand why it would not be hard for Djite and co to have one eye on Tuesday-s showdown with Gamba Osaka.

The away win over Bunyodkor in the opening match day of the AFC Champions League has given the Reds an early sense that despite the difficulty of the group they find themselves in, if they can pull off another three points at home to Gamba, the chance of qualifying through to the Round of 16 could not be out of the question.

Djite realises what a victory over Gamba would mean for the Reds in the context of the standings in Group E with four games remaining, but as exciting as six points from two games sounds, he also knows they cannot look too far ahead and that there is still a long way to go.

“Winning away from home is always a bonus, winning at home is what you-ve definitely got to aim for, so that-s what we-ll be doing against Gamba, and if we can get six points from the first two games, it really sets you up for getting into the play-off stages, so it-s a crucial game against Gamba,” Djite said.

“We don-t want to get ahead of ourselves, we-ve still got the Mariners first, but if we can get one over Gamba at Hindmarsh it would be a fantastic result for the club.”