YOKOHAMA—Gamba Osaka finished third at the Club World Cup with a 1-0 win over Mexico’s Pachuca at Yokohama International Stadium on Sunday.
Afterward, the typically cheerless Akira Nishino Qq Online gave his thoughts on the match, the tournament and about being “killed” by Manchester United.
Q: Can we have some comments on your impression of the match?
A: Well, I wouldn’t say it was an ideal football match for us today but we were able to play against Pachuca, who play a Central American footballing style. We respect them a lot and are very honored to have played them.
We played three different clubs from three continents at this tournament, all of whom are well-known and respected clubs. We are very happy about that.
At the same time, we played our own game, Gamba Osaka’s style, and we were able to get this result.
Our players were not afraid and they were full of challenging spirit, so I believe this match will lead us to the next step in our development.
Having said that, we lost some players to injury and all of the players are extremely tired now so we were unable to play at 100 percent at this tournament. Under the circumstances, we did our best.
Rather than euphoric, our players are very tired. But with upcoming (Emperor’s Cup) matches, maybe they are not ready to celebrate. We used everything we had at this tournament and I think it was a great experience for Gamba Osaka.
Q: With Gamba finishing third this year at the CWC and Urawa Reds doing the same last year, what does it say about the strength of the J-League?
A: I don’t really care about how the Reds did last year. That has nothing to do with our result today. As representatives of the J-League, yes it was the Reds last year and us this year but our approach is totally different to theirs. We have a different style as a team and as a club.
Of course to participate in this tournament we have to win the ACL and this year three J-League teams participated in the ACL. This year I think the mission of the J-League, to move to a higher stage, was fully achieved by Gamba.
We are sometimes compared to Urawa Reds and what they achieved last season but I’m not really sure it’s an appropriate comparison.
Q: What advice did you give your defenders today?
A: I told them that Pachuca uses short passes and have very good technique. They also have a totally different playing style to Manchester United. I told the defenders to press hard and not be afraid to push forward. I also told them to stay compact along with the midfielders, and to not defend against the players but to defend against the passes.
We were able to do this to some extent, however, they were really good at breaking our formation and creating space. We did well, however, ideally I would have liked our backline to have pressed even harder. In the first half, our backline was about 10 meters behind where it should have been. So in the second half I told them to run more, even if it was quite difficult for them, to move the line up. Unfortunately, they were unable to do so and line retreated even further. But for 10 to 20 minutes we were able to press ahead and respond positively.
Q: When you compete on the world stage again, would you change your approach? Have you learned anything that makes you think you need to change your style when playing against teams from other countries?
A: When we played against Manchester United and Pachuca we had to come up with different approaches. It all depends on who we play against. Of course we do have a basis, our foundation, but we have to be flexible. Depending on the situation, on the opponent, we need different tactics. For those two teams we were able to play with a certain target. Will this work in other matches against other opponents? Not necessarily.
Q: Why did you make the two substitutions you did in the second half?
A: I replaced Ryuji Bando because I didn’t want to be too defensive and I thought he was tiring and not able to run enough. So I replaced him in an effort to get a second goal. By brining on Takahiro Futagawa for Bando, I was sending a message to my team to continue pushing forward.
Bando missed so many good scoring opportunities. He was unable to capitalize, which is what I told him when he came off.
I also wanted to use Futagawa because he was injured in the first match against Adelaide. He can create a lot of chances.
As for bringing Takuya Takei on for Lucas, I wanted to kill the flanks during the last 15 minutes. I wanted our midfielders to be more defensive at that point.
Q: Will you be able to leverage your performance here to your advantage during the upcoming Emperor’s Cup campaign?
A: It was a great challenge for us to play in this tournament and I think we have to analyze the lessons we’ve learned here. Otherwise, there is no point to be at this tournament. We need to reflect but we don’t have the time because we have to play on the 25th against Nagoya. We can’t leverage what we’ve learned here in that match. It is too early. Our players are so tired and it will be very difficult for us to fully prepare for our next match. I just hope my players can fully recover from the fatigue.
But to be sure, our three matches at this tournament will be a great contribution to our development at Gamba Osaka.
Q: I hope my question doesn’t overlap a previous one but … Manchester United killed your movement on the ball. Will you continue playing in the same style or will you make changes to your approach?
A: Are you talking about Manchester United? Do you want me to analyze Manchester United?
Q: No, no, no. What I am saying … I think the match against United really showed Gamba’s strengths and weaknesses …
A: You just told me that Manchester United killed us. That is a horrible thing to say. And I can’t believe you said that. It was a great opponent and we were not sure how we could exploit our strengths. It’s natural that Manchester would come out and try to neutralize our game, but we tried and we scored and we created a number of scoring opportunities. It means something. We learned something. Their style is very simple. One, two, three touches and then shoot. Everybody chased the ball and we learned that if we kept things simple, we could also score. It’s not only about Gamba Osaka. We played against a very good team.
Although we wanted to try a lot of things and had a very good imagination, it’s true that Manchester tried to kill that imagination. But at times we were able to show our game and we got the result we did because of that.