Adelaide United regrouped on Monday after crashing 1-0 to Gamba Osaka at the FIFA Club World Cup, knowing pride is on the line with a wooden spoon match against African powerhouse Al Ahly still to play.
Gamba rubbed salt in Adelaide wounds on Sunday with their third consecutive win over the Australians after crushing them 5-0 on aggregate in the two legs of their AFC Champions League final last month. Adelaide coach Aurelio Vidmar and his players were frustrated at missing so many decisive opportunities in the Gamba match, but are determined to lift for their fifth-place play-off against the Egyptians on Thursday.
Vidmar chose to stress the positives, praising his players for their improvement since the AFC Champions League final. Since then, Adelaide have practised putting pressure on opponents from the word go. "We tried that as best as we can. I think it was a fantastic improvement from the ACL final," Vidmar said. "It's giving us once again a benchmark to a way we should be heading, and a way football and strategies should be heading."
During the Champions League final, Adelaide also tried to mount pressure on Gamba, but in doing so they created holes in the midfield and defence, allowing the Japanese team to stage quick counter attacks. "That was our main focus, to press them wherever we can. It's very hard to do that for 90 minutes," said Vidmar.
Adelaide indeed put up a brave battle against Gamba, with a number of decent chances narrowly missing the target. "We probably deserved a little bit more out of the game than what we got," said Vidmar, while shrugging off suggestions that Adelaide could have fought more efficiently by sending in more high crosses to benefit from their superior height.
"When you are losing 1-0 and there are ten minutes to go, you try everything you possibly can. You play a little bit more direct," he said. But he added: "We want to play football as much as we can. We know we were up against a superior opponent. But that proved to me, by insisting to play football with the ball on the ground as much as you can, then you can match it against Gamba," he said.
Skipper Travis Dodd lamented his numerous missed opportunities. "We attacked them, we put pressure on them and we created opportunities. The opportunities I had...they just didn't want to go. Maybe on another night they would have gone in," he said.
Vidmar said he was looking forward to the match with six-time African champions Al Ahly. "Now we just look forward to Thursday's game and once again it's another game where we want to do our very best and win," he said. Al Ahly were beaten by Mexico's Pachuca 4-2 in their quarter-final.