Adelaide United’s travelling squad has arrived in Osaka, weary yet determined to make their trip to Japan’s third largest city a memorable one.
Adelaide United-s travelling squad has arrived in Osaka, weary yet determined to make their trip to Japan-s third largest city a memorable one.
After a team walk and some down time, the Reds had a light run at Gamba Osaka-s training ground late this afternoon to flush out any physical fatigue from the 8,000 kilometre journey via Kuala Lumpur, all of the players getting through the session well.
The Reds meet Gamba Osaka on Wednesday night at the Expo -70 Commemorative Stadium with a first placed finish in the group and a home Round of 16 clash there for the taking. Already guaranteed a place in the last 16, securing a home game in the do-or-die Round of 16 fixture on May 29 would be icing on the cake in what has been another remarkable run in the Group Stage for Adelaide United.
A win over Gamba would do just that, while there is also a chance United could finish top even if they do not pick up a result in Osaka as the make up of the final standings will also depend on the outcome of the other Group E match between Bunyodkor and the Pohang Steelers.
If Pohang win, the Reds must do the same against Gamba to wrap up top spot. However, a draw or a Bunyodkor victory in Tashkent would see Adelaide only needing a point at best to go through, although Reds defender Iain Fyfe says they will not be leaving anything to chance by relying on what happens elsewhere.
“You never know what can happen in football and Wednesday will be one of those circumstances when teams are playing at the same time, in situations like this you can only concentrate on your game and the opponent you-re playing against,” Fyfe said from the team-s hotel in Osaka.
Another possible mental trap the Reds are being wary of is the fact that they face a Gamba side that are out of contention for the Round of 16. Renowned as one of the powerhouse clubs of Japanese football, Gamba-s 2012 to date has not reflected its hefty reputation. But as is often the case, teams and players that have nothing to lose can be just as, if not more, dangerous and Fyfe knows it.
“If we go in with the attitude that they (Gamba) are going to take it easy because they can-t qualify anymore then we-ve already lost,” Fyfe warned.
“There is no way they-re going to be like that. They-ve got a big squad and whether they rest key players or not, every player in that Gamba Osaka squad can play and they will have something to prove, especially after we beat them at Hindmarsh.”
“So we have to be mentally switched on and be 100 per cent ready to play from the first whistle because if we-re not then we-re going to have problems.”
“We can-t underestimate Gamba Osaka, they-re a great team and very well respected in Asia and they always play good football.”
To a certain extent, Fyfe will, like Gamba, be out to make his mark on Wednesday night. The defender is preparing to make his first start in this year-s competition, given the responsibility of the holding midfielder role left vacant by the knee injury to Osama Malik.
Fyfe had a taste of the position when Coach Kosmina brought him on for Malik against Bunyodkor, and while he remembers playing the role a number of times back in his NSL days, it is a not something he has done a lot of in recent times. Renowned as a centre back, Fyfe proved more than a handy acquisition in his time on the pitch a fortnight ago sitting in front of the back four and is ready to do his best in the crucial link up position on Wednesday night.
“I-m excited about it. It-s unfortunate for Ozzie to miss out because he-s been playing extremely well, but unfortunately injuries happen so I-ve got an opportunity to come into the team and hopefully I can do well and perform for the boys and I-m looking forward to the challenge.”
Fyfe and the rest of the Reds- travelling squad will have their one hour familiarisation session at the Expo -70 Commemorative Stadium on Tuesday morning in what will be their final training run before Wednesday night-s 7.30pm ACST kick-off.