YOKOHAMA, Japan (AFP) - A defiant Gamba Osaka insist they are not afraid of Manchester United, but the Japanese team face a daunting task against the European champions in their Club World Cup semi-final on Thursday.
It will be one of the biggest games in Gamba's history, but they are handicapped by injuries to attacking midfielders Takahiro Futagawa and Hayato Sasaki, who were stretchered off during their win over Adelaide on Sunday.
A consolation is that United are also struggling, with Dimitar Berbatov sick with a virus and ruled out of the game, while Wayne Rooney is a doubt after picking up an injury in training.
Gamba captain Satoshi Yamaguchi believes they have what it takes to tame the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Rooney, should he play.
"We have nothing to lose and we'll go all out, leave everything out there on the pitch," he said.
"We don't want to be thinking after the match that we should have done this and that, and as long as we're playing them, we'll play to win. But we need to make sure we don't play like we did against Adelaide."
In that game, the Asian champions were lucky to survive, with the influential Yasuhito Endo scoring the only goal.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson watched the match on DVD and pinpointed Endo as the danger man, along with their Brazilian striker Lucas.
"He is their star player," the Scot said of Endo. "Not only did he score the decisive goal, he was the influential player in terms of possession of the ball.
"He actually changed his position from where he normally plays behind the centre forward after they lost two players in the first 18 minutes and played towards the left-hand side. And it worked very well.
"Their Brazilian centre forward (Lucas) is also a very good player. He has quick feet and, unusually for a Brazilian, he is tall. He is a very effective player."
Ferguson, who has defended United's decision to make the long trip to Japan in mid-season, would not be drawn on his starting 11.
But he said veterans Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs would all play.
"They have played a lot of big games and their experience will be vital," he said, adding that Ronaldo was also a definite starter.
United are eager to win the tournament and add a new trophy to their collection, but Ferguson is aware that Japanese football has improved in recent years and he is not being complacent.
"I've experienced playing in Japan before. We played Urawa Reds twice and they were very difficult opposition because they played with great enthusiasm," he said.
"The improvement in Japanese football is obvious. There is a tremendous improvement in the organisation and team's abilities, so we're expecting a hard game on Thursday.
"Hopefully it is one we can win and go to the final."
Awaiting them in Sunday's final, should they win, will be either Ecuador's Liga de Quito or Mexico's Pachuca.
Despite United's superior skills, physical strength and experience, Gamba coach Akira Nishino suggested an upset was not just a dream.
Admitting his side's chances of creating an upset are "close to nil", Nishino said: "We will face them without fear."
"Tomorrow will be a great day for Gamba. We are ready to give 100 percent for the challenge tomorrow," he added.
The Club World Cup, first organised in its current format in 2005, is an extension of the Intercontinental Cup contested by European and South American champion clubs.
|Ronaldo dismisses United rumours|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Portland, Sporting KC win well|
|Tajik footballer tests positive at Asian Games|
|Australia appoint Abrams as technical director|
|Copa Sudamericana Review: Porteno, Vallejo progress|
|Rooney: United will be successful|
|Hummels to return - Klopp|
|Milner in no rush for City deal|
|Ancelotti praises fit, motivated Ronaldo|
|Carroll vows to repay fans|
|Ward-Prowse out for up to three months|
|MLS Preview: Red Bulls enjoying tactical change|
|Ronaldo like Jordan, says Escriba|
|Rodgers eyes derby boost|
|Bielsa dismisses title talk|
|Mignolet relieved after marathon shoot-out|
|La Liga Review: Ronaldo runs rampant, Alvarez denies Deportivo|
|League Cup Review: Liverpool win marathon shootout, Southampton oust Arsenal|
|West Ham look unlikely to allow ground share|
|Inzaghi bemoans sloppy Milan start|
|Wenger credits Southampton after cup KO|
|Liverpool 2 Middlesbrough 2 (aet, 14-13 on penalties): Hosts progress after incredible shootout|
|Ligue 1 Review: Five-star Marseille hammer Reims|
|Paderborn crushing set an example - Robben|
|Milanic confirmed as new Leeds boss|
|Ronaldo shares the plaudits after four-goal haul|
|Bundesliga Review: Bayern go top, Schalke hit form|
|Empoli 2 Milan 2: Inzaghi´s men show spirit to salvage a point|
|Sunderland 1 Stoke City 2: Muniesa at the double to put Stoke through|
|Swansea City 3 Everton 0: 2013 winners progress to fourth round|
|Arsenal 1 Southampton 2: Clyne stunner dumps Arsenal out|
|Real Madrid 5 Elche 1: Ronaldo masterclass fires Madrid to victory|
|Bayern Munich 4 Paderborn 0: Newcomers given reality check by champions|
|Klopp rules out Gundogan return|
|Pochettino calls for a change of mentality|
|Chelsea to rotate against Bolton - Holland|
|Ibrahimovic to miss Caen clash|
|Gold rush for China at Asian Games|
|Garcia unfazed by Roma injury list|
|Simeone makes case for the defence|
|Morrison set for Cardiff move|
|Liverpool get green light for Anfield expansion|
|Inter sporting director Ausilio signs new deal|
|Suarez to get Under-19 run-out|
|UEFA open proceedings against CSKA and Roma|
|Vidal close to Juve start|
|J.League Review: Frontale end Omiya´s revival, Champions League race hots up|
|CAF Champions League Preview: TP Mazembe and CS Sfaxien have it all to do|
|Pellegrini mulls over Lampard extension|
|Herd completes Bolton loan move|
|De Rossi set to miss Man City and Juventus ties|
|Portugal appoint Fernando Santos|
|Candreva extends Lazio contract|
|Gray plots City downfall after scouting mission|
|O´Neill opts for consistency with Germany on horizon|
|Davies confident of another Hull City cup run|
|Pardew: Time running out for Ameobi|
|Behrami: Teamwork key for Hamburg|
|Magath hits back at ´laughable´ Hangeland|
|Bravo ´not surprised´ by perfect start|
|Mourinho urges Chelsea to control emotions|
|Van Persie hit hardest by Ferguson retirement|
|Martino offers Tevez hope|
|Kompany: Lampard goal could be crucial|
|Not celebrating against old clubs is ´nonsense´ - McCarthy|
|Nuno lauds Valencia players|
|´No concerns´ over Gerrard form - Rodgers|
|Olsen signs contract extension with DC|
|Argentine Primera Division Review: River Plate win again|
|Hamann urges Liverpool to change style|
|Rooney ´not spectacular´ as striker - Van Gaal|
|Spahic to make sensational international return|
|Uruguayan Primera Division Review: Top trio post wins|
|Tevez misses out again as Messi returns|
|Almeria v Atletico Madrid: Gabi issues rallying cry|
|Kouyate out for up to six weeks|
|Barca monitoring Neymar and Rakitic|
|Onazi extends Lazio deal|
|Turkish Super Lig Review: Akhisar Belediyespor continue strong start|
|Academica 2 Estoril 2: Kuca at the double to deny 10-man hosts|
|Wigan Athletic 1 Ipswich Town 2: McCarthy´s men win again|
|Getafe 0 Valencia 3: Visitors go second with comfortable win|
|Juventus v Cesena: Hosts out to maintain perfect record|
|Inter v Atalanta: Mazzarri looking for reaction|
|Borussia Dortmund v Stuttgart: Injury-hit hosts seek swift response|
|West Brom v Hull City: Irvine looking for more of the same in League Cup|
|Russian Premier League Review: CSKA, Dinamo win Moscow derbies|
|Chelsea v Bolton Wanderers: History stacked against the visitors|
|La Liga Preview: Elche set for Real test, Barca head to Levante|
|Rodgers looking for Anfield improvement|
|Pallotta: Strootman is not for sale|
|Zwanziger: 2022 World Cup will not be held in Qatar|
|Caen v Paris Saint-Germain: Blanc out to lift PSG gloom in Normandy|
|Watford boss Garcia released from hospital|
|Inzaghi confident Milan squad can cope with hectic schedule|
|Japan dominate the pool in Incheon|
|Sakho looking to develop Valencia partnership|
|Crystal Palace v Newcastle United: Pardew seeks respite with win at former club|
|Manchester City v Sheffield Wednesday: Gray out to shock City|
|Bowen optimistic away form can continue|
|Tottenham v Nottingham Forest: Kaboul eyes League Cup glory|
|Marotta praises Allegri start|
|League Cup Preview: Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough relish big trips|
|Debuchy out for three months|
|Benteke nearing Villa return|
|Serie A Preview: Roma and Juventus out to maintain perfect starts|
|J.League Preview: Urawa out to consolidate lead|
|Ozil: I have nothing to prove|
|Ribery still on the sidelines for Paderborn clash|
|Malaga v Barcelona: Leaders sweat on Neymar fitness|
|Ancelotti calls for Real unity|
|Anything is possible under Garcia - Gervinho|
|Agger: Rodgers discord led to Liverpool departure|
|Bundesliga Preview: Shock leaders face Bayern test, Stuttgart visit Dortmund|
|Rakitic concentrating on Barca not rivals|
|Rodwell pleased with fitness progress|
|Ligue 1 Preview: Blanc eyes killer instinct|
|PSG must work harder - Ibrahimovic|
|Stoke have held Crouch talks, says Hughes|
|Sanchez confident Hernandez will thrive in Madrid|
|Wasted chances cost Chelsea - Mourinho|
|Pellegrini hails City´s best performance|
|Schneiderlin out to avoid December struggles|
|Pearson buoyed by form of Leicester front three|
|Van Gaal running out of defensive options|
|Champions League no excuse - Sterling|
|Copa Sudamericana Preview: Cerro confident after big win|
|Gentiletti out for six months|
|CONCACAF Champions League Preview: Portland primed for top spot|
|Colombian Primera A Review: Cali rise to the summit|
|Neville slams ´soft-centred´ United|
|Liga del Futbol Profesional Boliviano Review: San Jose go top|
|Ecuadorian Primera A Review: Barcelona move clear|
|Liga MX Review: Ronaldinho scores on league debut|
|Costa Rican Primera Division Review: Nunez fires again for Herediano|
|Paraguayan Division Profesional Review: Sol de America end streak|
|Serie A no two-horse race - Garcia|
|Venezuelan Primera Division Review: Tachira thrash Tucanes|
|Brazilian Serie A Review: Cruzeiro stunned late, Goias crush Palmeiras|
|Peruvian Primera Division Review: Melgar, Cesar Vallejo win again|
|Toronto FC 3 Chivas USA 0: Hosts end winless run|
|Ligue 1 Review: Pressure builds on Blanc, Monaco edge to victory|
|Al-Khelaifi gives Blanc vote of confidence|
|Mazzarri frustrated by draw|