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Gamba trio set fine example

12 Sep 2005(Mon)

September 9 -- It's not hard to see why Gamba Osaka are doing so well in J1 this season.

Just look at the list of leading goalscorers.

At the top is Araujo with 21 goals, six more than Verdy's Brazilian ace Washington.

In third place is the J.League's top Japanese striker, Masashi Oguro, with 14, and way down the list comes the third member of this striking triumvirate, Fernandinho, with five.

What really catches the eye, though, is the fact that all three players have played in all 22 league games. Not started all and not finished all, but they have been available for all.

The fact that they stay fit and stay out of trouble is crucial to Gamba's cause, as injuries and yellow cards are inevitable these days with so many matches.

Without wanting to open old wounds, just think how many more games Urawa Reds would have won had Emerson been available all the time, instead of missing matches through suspension.

It's vital for foreign professionals in Japan to bring with them a professional attitude, and nobody epitomises this quality more than Gamba's third Brazilian player, Sidiclei.

I remember watching him play years ago at Tochigi Green Stadium -- and missing a penalty for Montedio Yamagata against Nagoya Grampus Eight in the Emperor's Cup.

In fact it was 1998, because Philippe Troussier was also watching the game, in particular the form of Grampus striker Kenji Fukuda as the coach assembled his squad for Olympic qualifying.

I apologise to Sidiclei for bringing that incident up, but it does illustrate how long he's been around and, through hard work and a professional approach, has climbed the ladder until he's now at the very top with Gamba.

Can Sidiclei and company stay there?

Personally, I think they can. I was very impressed with Gamba from an early stage of the season, when I saw them at Saitama Stadium against Urawa, and the players now realise that a first league championship is within their grasp.

It's still very tight, of course, and won't be decided for a few weeks yet, but the Araujo-Oguro-Fernandinho combo has shown already how important it is to stay on the field and do what you are paid to do.


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