x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Gamba bank on Endo the 'mole'

The Gamba Osaka manager Akira Nishino believes his Yasuhito Endo could make the difference in the ACL final first leg against Adelaide United.

TOKYO // The Gamba Osaka manager Akira Nishino believes his midfield "mole" Yasuhito Endo could make the difference in the Asian Champions League final against Adelaide United tomorrow night. Gamba entertain Adelaide in Wednesday's first leg and Nishino said Endo's passing and threat from free-kicks should give his team an edge against the Australian side's towering defenders. "He's a bit like a mole ? he can look exhausted but he finds a way through," Nishino said today. "He has real quality and can change a game in a moment. He gives us something extra."

Endo was influential in Gamba's 4-2 aggregate win over holders Urawa Reds in last month's semi-finals, scoring one and setting up another in a 3-1 second leg victory away from home. "It's incredible really to have reached the final," said Nishino. "But we've come this far so now we want to push on and win the title." Nishino said his side had to unlock the Adelaide defence and be wary of counter-attacks.

"They're strong defensively so we know we must break them down. If we don't and they catch us on the break we could be in trouble." Adelaide overcame the Uzbekistan side Bunyodkur in the other semi-final and the United coach Aurelio Vidmar was confident after outwitting the former Japan coach Zico's side 3-1 over two legs. "We have to stay positive," said Vidmar, whose side's 13-match unbeaten run has just been ended by Melbourne Victory in the A-League.

"We have two of the biggest games in the club's history coming up so we have to get it right for both matches by fixing some small details." The Adelaide playmaker Diego is a slight injury concern for Vidmar while goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic and the former Brighton midfielder Paul Reid are also carrying knocks. The midfielder Lucas Pantelis insisted Adelaide were ready to pull off a smash-and-grab raid in Wednesday's first leg at the Expo Stadium.