Gamba Osaka’s Yasuhito Endo has spoken of his respect for Kashima Antlers legend Mitsuo Ogasawara ahead of Saturday’s Yamazaki Nabisco Cup final.
The former Japan national team pair will come head-to-head when their sides face off for the trophy at Saitama Stadium.
And Endo has revealed how much Antlers mirror his counterpart’s personality on the pitch, warning Gamba that Masatada Ishii’s men will provide a stern test on the day.
“Antlers may be the most tenacious and determined team in the J.League,” he said.
“It may be because of veterans such as Ogasawara, but Antlers are traditionally a team built to win big matches like this one.
“If it’s a big match or a championship match, that’s when they play their best. If we let them score first it will be difficult to develop our strategy, and that’s something all of our players need to understand.
“If they score, we just have to fight back. But if we get to score on a set-play it will make things easier for us, so I hope I get a chance to take that shot.”
Following a shaky start to the season, Antlers have roared back into contention for silverware under the leadership of Ishii.
Ogasawara and co. will be looking to cement their status as the competition’s most successful outfit by taking the trophy off last season’s winners, Gamba.