CLOUD OVER GAMBA COULD HAVE SILVER LINING

Nobody truly believed it could happen: Gamba's relegation

Gamba Osaka’s dark days in the 2012 J League could finally brighten with a berth in the Emperor’s Cup final on New Years Day 2013. The competition which provides the winner with a ticket into the Asian Champions League, will be completed tomorrow when relegated Gamba face Kashiwa Reysol.

 

Gamba have won their way into the final via a recent quarter final win over neighbours Cerezo Osaka, and a semi final victory over Kashima Antlers. Their win over Kashima came via captain Yasuhito Endo’s goal which many felt was a cross gone wrong. The diminutive midfielder played his part in a short corner before lobbing a ball toward the box from the left. Low and behold, the ball ended up flying beyond the keeper’s reach and into the net at the far post. The 23rd minute opener was the only goal of the match, meanwhile Kashiwa Reysol won their semi against Yokohama F Marinos. Reysol went ahead in the 23rd minute due to a headed goal from 22 year old Masato Kudo. Yokohama failed to deal with a cross from Jorge Wagner and the ensuing head-tennis saw old stager Nakazawa head a ball from off his own line, only to have Kudo step into the breach and make it count. It remained 1-nil, and Kashiwa are now set to play Gamba in a repeat of the 2008 final which the Kansai club won in extra time (1-nil). Revenge beckons for Kashiwa but for Gamba it’s a chance to restore some pride and gain a little redemption. The relegation of Gamba Osaka was on the radar all throughout the 2012 season, but nobody truly believed it could happen. Even when the final day of the season came around Gamba’s fate was in their own hands. Amazingly the club was relegated for the first time in their history. Tomorrow’s final could launch the team into Asia and give the fans some much needed hope.
Kickoff: 2pm Japan time.  4pm AEDT. 

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