Adelaide United face Gamba Osaka at Coopers Stadium on Wednesday in their Group H AFC Champions League opener and the Australian outfit are relishing the prospect of a fresh start in a new competition.
After winning the A-League last season, Adelaide currently sit at the bottom of the table with just 14 points from 20 games.
This season has been a disaster, but all is not lost. Such is the prestige of the AFC Champions League that even a calamitous domestic campaign can be made up for by a strong run on the continent.
“For us, it’s a fresh start,” Adelaide defender Tarek Elrich told reporters on Tuesday.
“It’s another competition, but in saying that we don’t give up on the A-League.”
— ガンバ大阪オフィシャル (@GAMBA_OFFICIAL) February 20, 2017
While Adelaide will be frustrated by injuries to midfield linchpin Isaias and captain and goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic, they are buoyed by the notion that they will be far sharper than their opponents.
Adelaide are more than half-way through their domestic season and have just beaten the Newcastle Jets. Gamba Osaka start their domestic season this weekend. The J-League club have only played one competitive game so far in 2017 which was a 3-0 play-off triumph over Johor Darul Ta’zim almost two weeks ago.
A cooly taken Carrusca penalty and a clean sheet downs the Jets!
— Adelaide United FC (@AdelaideUnited) February 17, 2017
“We go out there knowing if we stick to the task and play as physical as we can, that we can get a result,” Elrich continued.
“They’re early on in their preseason, obviously with us being fit and three-quarters through our own season, we expect them to probably slow down the game.
“We’re well aware that if they get their chance and score real early, then they’re going to try and take the sting out of the game.”
Gamba Osaka could boast four Japanese internationals in their starting team.
Adelaide and Gamba have history with the Japanese powerhouse having smashed the Reds 5-0 over two legs in the 2008 ACL final.