Gamba Osaka goalkeeper Masaaki Higashiguchi hopes his team can make up for last year’s lackluster AFC Champions League performance as they look to win their first continental title since the 2008 campaign.
After finishing the 2016 MEIJI YASUDA J1 League in fourth place and defeating Malaysia’ Johor Darul Ta’zim in the playoff round, Gamba will join Australia’s Adelaide United, China’s Jiangsu Suning, and South Korea’s Jeju United in Group H.
“As a team we barely managed to earn this chance and we don’t want to let it go to waste,” Higashiguchi said. “Last year we finished the group stage without a win, and this year we’re serious about winning the title.
“Two years ago we defended well and took the chances we were given, but last year we were impatient and our play was unbalanced. This year we have to be patient and turn wins into a title run.”
Gamba will open the group stage at Adelaide, who they defeated in 2008 to win Japan’s most recent ACL championship.