Quarter-finals nicely poised
© AFP

All four AFC Champions Leagu quarter-final ties are on a knife-edge following last week's first leg encounters. Japan's Gamba Osaka are best placed to make the semis of Asia's premier club competition after a hard-fought 2-1 away win against tough Syrian side Al Karama last week. They came from behind, with goals from Satoshi Yamaguchi and Masato Yamazaki in the last 20 minutes earning them a crucial victory.

Gamba coach Akira Nishino wants to see the same determination from his team in the second leg. "The first leg has finished, and we now know a lot about Al Karama and their weaknesses and strengths. We will study them more in order to win in Osaka," he said. "Al Karama are definitely not a weak side. But we will take plenty of motivation from our display as we try to win the next match."

Adelaide United coach Aurelio Vidmar has warned his charges against complacency following their 1-1 away result against Japan's Kashima Antlers. The Australians took a precious point from the match thanks to a first half goal from captain Travis Dodd.

"The team worked well collectively, but we have still got a lot of work to do because it's over two legs," Vidmar said. "I was pleased with the quality of the entire team and they worked the hardest they ever have this season."

More composure
Despite facing a patriotic Australian crowd, Kashima Antlers coach Oswaldo Oliveira believes his side can still progress to the last four but wants more composure from his players in front of goal. "I think we have enough of a chance to win the game there, and to score goals," he said. "They have a very good side, they're very strong, but we're going to play to win the game."

Elsewhere, Kuwaiti outfit Al Qadsia travel to Japan with a 3-2 advantage over defending champions Urawa Reds, but coach Mohammed Ibrahim knows it won't be easy to defend their lead. "We expect to face another tight contest in the second leg as well," he said. "We are sure Urawa Reds will not give in lightly, as they are a strong team and a professional team. But we will redouble our efforts so that we progress to the semi-final. It will be a challenge for us but we have shown that we can face challenges."

The Reds have the advantage of scoring two away goals, and coach Gert Engels believes it could be decisive in the return leg in Saitama. "We need to win only 1-0 in the match at home," he said. "I'm confident the team can do it."

Urawa will be without Satoshi Horinouchi who was sent off in the first leg, but Engels doesn't expect to make too many other changes to his starting lineup. "We would certainly have to make one change because of the red card, but I don't think wholesale changes are necessary," he said.

In the other match, Uzbek outfit Bunyodkor take on Iran's Saipa at home after a 2-2 draw last week, with coach Mirdjalal Kasimov expecting more of the same from former FIFA World Player of the Year Rivaldo who scored in the first leg.