I was not dropped for ACL semi-final, insists Usami

I was not dropped for ACL semi-final, insists Usami

Gamba Osaka star Takashi Usami reveals he had discussed his substitute role during the second leg of the AFC Champions League semi-final against Guangzhou Evergrande with Kenta Hasegawa beforehand.

The club’s top scorer was surprisingly named on the bench in Wednesday’s 0-0 draw against the Chinese outfit, and was unable to prevent his side from slipping to a 2-1 aggregate loss despite coming on after the hour mark. 

Nevertheless, Usami refuted claims his coach had dropped him for the crucial tie, and hopes his team-mates can pick up valuable lessons from their run in the competition and make up for their exit in subsequent matches. 

“I was told [that I would start on the bench] the day before the match,” the 23-year-old told reporters after the match. 

“I was told why but there’s no reason to talk about it here. In any case that decision belonged to the manager. I wanted to come onto the pitch and score.    

“Honestly, it doesn’t feel like we lost. [Evergrande] had a different sort of strength than they showed in the away leg. But we only needed one goal and so it was a disappointing match.

“Even though they were strong in defence I was able to get a few shots away, but I wasn’t able to finish these chances off. All we can do is move on and apply what we’ve learned next time.

“This was the tournament we cared about and wanted to win the most, but we can’t falter and have to take advantage of all the potential left in our remaining games.”

The Japanese domestic Treble winners still have the chance to defend all their titles this season, beginning with the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup when they face Kashima Antlers in the final on October 31.