Gamba Osaka out to defend ACL title

Japanese club Gamba Osaka kick-off their Asian Champions League title defence tonight when they take on Chinese champions Shandong Luneng at home.

Gamba started their domestic season with a convincing 3-0 win over JEF United Chiba on the weekend but Shandong will not conceded defeat before the game has commenced, preferring to go in to the opening fixture full of confidence.

"We are never afraid of playing against Japanese sides," said Shandong coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic.

"The match is all about confidence and resolve."

Despite playing just two days ago, Gamba coach Akira Nishino said his team is ready.

"You should be capable of playing with a two-day rest in between games," he said.

"I'm not feeling any negative influence from that at the moment. Plus, we have plenty of confidence after winning the title following some real difficulties last year.

"The status of the ACL has increased as the tournament has more powerful clubs and I've heard that the teams from South Korea and China have stronger motivation to win the ACL this time," he added.

"After winning this tournament last year, I know people's expectations are higher."

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