Newly crowned Asian champions Gamba Osaka have vowed to stick to their brand of attacking football at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan next month, even if they come up against mighty Manchester United.
"I have achieved my biggest goal," Gamba coach Akira Nishino told Japanese media after his side beat Adelaide United 2-0 away to seal the AFC Champions League final 5-0 on aggregate on Wednesday. "Now, we want to fight squarely with Man U."
"The world next! Man U next!" the Nikkan Sports daily blared in a headline, praising Gamba for following up fellow J-League side Urawa Reds' triumph last year. Gamba midfielder Yasuhito Endo, voted the most valuable player of the tournament, said the side had remained aggressive throughout the tournament and had played "a fun kind of football together."
"Gamba Osaka scored a perfect victory by playing their usual game," J-League chairman Kenji Onitake said after Brazilian striker Lucas scored twice in the first 15 minutes of the second leg of the final to kill off the A-League side. "I hope they win the Club World Cup with spectacular performances to overwhelm Manchester United."
Gamba scored 27 goals, 17 of them away, in winning nine matches and drawing three in the tournament - a stark contrast to the national side's woes in front of goal.
In the quarter-finals of December's Club World Cup in Japan, Gamba will play the winners of a play-off between Adelaide, the Asian runners-up, and Oceania champions Waitakere United of New Zealand. The winners of that match will then face the seeded European champions Manchester United in a semi-final clash at Yokohama on 18 December. South American champions LDU Quito of Ecuador are seeded top in the other half of the annual world club competition.
"We want to pull Japanese football ahead," Gamba captain and defender Satoshi Yamaguchi said. "We also want to spread Gamba's football further."
The FIFA Club World Cup, first organised in its current form in 2005, is an extension of the Intercontinental Cup fought between European and South American champion clubs. The other continents, however, have been also-rans so far.
But midfielder Michihiro Yasuda is not daunted. "They (Manchester United) may be at a different level, but we want to give all we have and play Gamba's brand of football," he said.