Australians are perceived as eternal optimists the world over and that stereotype is unlikely to change as long as Adelaide United remain in the spotlight. Just moments after the disappointment of losing to Gamba Osaka in the FIFA World Club Cup quarter-finals, the A-League side's coach Aurelio Vidmar promised that his team would quickly lift themselves back up: "Now we're concentrated on the match for fifth place. We want to do our best and win it."
Their third loss of the year to Gamba was no doubt difficult to swallow, but Adelaide are not through with the tournament in Japan just yet. Vidmar feels the whole experience has been positive too. "I'm very proud of my boys' performance," he said. "I think they've progressed a lot since the AFC Champions League final and this should serve as a point of reference in terms of the direction Australian football should be taking."
Nobody within the club is taking the match against Al Ahly lightly either. "We're lucky to be playing here," added captain Travis Dodd. "We're taking part in a prestigious tournament and to play in front of a huge crowd at this stadium in Yokohama will be extraordinary. Knowing that world-class players contested the 2002 World Cup Final on this pitch will make the experience even more special."
For Vidmar, the Egyptian side already proved their worth by racing into a 2-0 lead at the half in their quarter-final against Mexican outfit Pachuca, before ultimately going on to lose. "They're a strong team and very experienced; they've won the CAF Champions League several times, this is their third Club World Cup and they played a great game against Pachuca," he said. "We're expecting a very difficult match."
Left winger Scott Jamieson, meanwhile, expects his team-mates to bounce back in style against the African champions. "We're pretty positive," he explained. "It'll be a match where we'll have to react in the right way. We'll have to show what we're made of and we're looking forward to the battle and taking fifth place."
"We've improved a lot since the Champions League final; that's undeniable," added Dodd, hoping to see his side demonstrate their progress on Thursday. "We undoubtedly deserved more against Gamba but we've got one last match to play and win."
The motivation is clearly there and all that remains now is for Vidmar to cobble together his starting XI from a squad suffering a number of injuries. With a long way still to go in the Australian season, Adelaide do not want to take any risks. "We've got a fair few in the treatment room," commented Vidmar. "Travis Dodd, Cassio, Fabian Barbiero and Sasa Ognenovski are all doubts, so we perhaps won't be able to put our strongest line-up out there. That said, the players on the pitch will give everything to get a positive result."
Whatever happens, though, Vidmar already knows he will leave Japan a happy man, once again airing that famous Aussie optimism. "I'd say it's been a superb adventure, a wonderful experience and we hope to come back here one day!"