A win is a win as they say, but Adelaide United showed little to suggest that they will be a match for Gamba Osaka in the quarter-finals of the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup.
The South Australians laboured to a 2-1 victory over semi-professional New Zealand outfit Waitakere United, but Adelaide had to come from behind to do so as midfielder Paul Seaman gave the Kiwis a shock 34th minute lead.
Five minutes later Adelaide United were back on level Agen Qiu Qiu terms when an inswinging Paul Reid corner found the impressive Daniel Mullen, and the teenage full-back powered home a bullet header to level the scores before half-time.
Any thoughts of a second half stroll for Adelaide were quickly dispelled as a compact Waitekere defended in numbers and attacked on the break, with Fijian international Roy Krishna causing constant headaches for the United defence.
It wasn’t until six minutes from time that Adelaide finally made the breakthrough as captain Travis Dodd flicked on Paul Reid’s precise free-kick to end the scoring in the Australian team’s favour.
The win came as an obvious relief to Reds coach Aurelio Vidmar, who was quick to praise Waitakere’s gritty display.
“They’re a smart footballing team with a smart coach and you can see that they’ve learnt a lot,” said Vidmar of the team that also lost out in the same playoff match at the 2007 edition of the Club World Cup.”
“They knew exactly how to play. They managed to get a goal and we had to learn to be a little bit patient and I was delighted that we came from behind.”
A bullish Waitakere coach Chris Milicich told reporters that he needed just one more year to fashion the Auckland-based upstarts into a team capable of reaching the Club World Cup quarter-finals.
They came close to a monumental upset in this one, but ultimately it wasn’t to be for the plucky Kiwi side.
Instead it is Adelaide United who march on, but they will need to improve dramatically if they are to have any chance of beating Gamba Osaka at Toyota Stadium in three days time.
Osim names squad for friendlies
Osim names squad for friendlies
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Japan national team manager Ivica Osim on Sunday named two more old boys to his squad in the run-up to this summer’s Asian Cup.
FC Basel’s Koji Nakata (56 caps) and Nagoya Grampus Eight goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki (50 caps) join Celtic’s Shunsuke Nakamura and Eintracht Frankfurt striker Naohiro Takahara as the latest everpresents from the Zico era to be brought back into the fold.
Osim named 27 players to his squad that will face Montenegro in Shizuoka on June 1 and Colombia in Saitama on June 5 as tune-ups for the continental competition being co-hosted by Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand this July.
Two-time defending champions Japan play Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam in the group stage of the competition.
Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi (Jubilo Iwata)
Seigo Narazaki (Nagoya Grampus Eight)
Eiji Kawashima (Kawasaki Frontale)
Yuji Nakazawa (Yokohama F Marinos)
Koji Nakata (FC Basel)
Keisuke Tsuboi (Urawa Reds)
Yuichi Komano Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
Hiroki Mizumoto (JEF United Chiba)
Naoaki Aoyama (Shimizu S-Pulse)
Shunsuke Nakamura (Celtic)
Hideo Hashimoto (Gamba Osaka)
Naotake Hanyu (JEF United Chiba)
Yasuhito Endo (Gamba Osaka)
Kengo Nakamura (Kawasaki Frontale)
Keita Suzuki (Urawa Reds)
Yuki Abe (Urawa Reds)
Yasuyuki Konno (F.C. Tokyo)
Satoru Yamagishi (JEF United Chiba)
Jungo Fujimoto (Shimizu S-Pulse)
Koki Mizuno (JEF United Chiba)
Keisuke Honda (Nagoya Grampus Eight)
Akihiro Ienaga (Gamba Osaka)
Naohiro Takahara (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Ryuji Bando (Gamba Osaka)
Seiichiro Maki (JEF United Chiba)
Hisato Sato (Sanfrecce Hiroshima)
Kisho Yano (Albirex Niigata)