Adelaide United Head Coach, Guillermo Amor, and defender, Tarek Elrich, are embracing the challenge of facing Japanese giants Gamba Osaka in the opening match of the 2017 AFC Champions League group stage at Hindmarsh Stadium on Wednesday.
The Reds return to Asia’s leading club competition for the first time since the 2012 edition, and will be looking to open their campaign with a win.
Wednesday night’s clash will be the sixth time the two sides have encountered in all competitions, with Gamba boasting three victories to Adelaide’s two.
Amor is expecting a tough match against the Japanese outfit, who boast several technical players.
“We know they’re (Gamba) a good team, it’s a strong team,” Amor said.
“Normally they always play in the Champions League and normally they’re a strong team.
“They’ve very good players, a few Brazilians, one Korean international and a lot of very good Japanese players.”
Meanwhile, Elrich admitted the Club is excited to be competing in the AFC Champions League after a five year hiatus.
The 2017 instalment will be the fifth appearance in the tournament for the Reds.
“It’s massive for our Club Adelaide United,” Elrich said.
“We’ve got a rich history in the competition, we’ve actually done very well in the past.
“And we’ve got expectations as players and as a Club we want to do well in this competition.
“It’s massive to have a club like Gamba Osaka come to Adelaide.”
The dynamic full-back revealed the team is cognisant of the Osaka-based club’s quality, but is confident United can nullify their strengths.
“They’ve got good individuals, Guillermo told us about the style they like to play,” Elrich said.
“Their left full-back gets pretty forward and they attack with four or five players.
“We’re wary of that and the coaching staff do a lot of research on their players and we know they’ve got good individuals and we know their strengths.
“We’ll go out there and make sure we do a good job defensively and take our chances at the other end.”
Elrich said the key to beating Gamba is to avoid conceding an early goal and be clinical in attack.
“It’s important not to concede early against them, because we know they’ve got that experience to slow the game down,” he said.
“We’ll go out there and go at them and play open as we always do, nothing changes so we’ll play our similar style that we know.
“And hopefully we’ll get a few chances early, but we’re well aware if they get the chance and score real early.
“They’re going to try and take the sting out of the game.”
Adelaide United will host Gamba Osaka in its first AFC Champions League 2017 group stage match on Wednesday, 22 February at Hindmarsh Stadium. Kick-off is at 7.30pm ACDT.