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Gamba open new stadium with preseason victory

Kyodo

Gamba Osaka celebrated the first game of their new home ground Suita City Football Stadium with a 3-1 win over Nagoya Grampus on Sunday in front of more than 35,000 spectators.

The 40,000-seater stadium, a 15-minute walk away from their old Expo Stadium across the Expo ’70 Commemorative Park, is the first stadium in Japan to be built by a club-initiated move to raise funds through company and individual donations.

Built for ¥14 billion, the stands are only seven meters from the pitch at their closest, and are adorned with the name plates of individual donators.

“The pitch is close to the seats and there’s that atmosphere too,” said Gamba and former Japan midfielder Yasuhito Endo. “If we get as many (spectators) every game, it’ll be a fantastic stadium.”

The first goal at the stadium was an own goal from the Nagoya defense in the 26th minute after new arrival Ademilson crossed from the left, and Yasuyuki Konno headed in a free kick from another new signing Jungo Fujimoto 10 minutes later.

Akira Yada got a goal back for Grampus minutes after the break but defender Daiki Niwa headed in a corner midway through the half for Gamba’s third.

“Players put in a firm display today. New players performed better than I was expecting,” said Gamba manager Kenta Hasegawa, who will be looking to add to the Emperor’s Cup title from January, the club’s lone trophy from last season.

Gamba’s first official match in their new home ground will be against Kashima Antlers on Feb. 28 in the first round of J. League fixtures.

New Nagoya manager Takafumi Ogura has now seen his side lose three training matches in a row, and admitted he needs to make some adjustments before the season’s start.

“I wanted to win while displaying what we want to do as a team but probably the gap in the managers showed,” he said. “It was positive we saw some of the things beginning to take shape, but there are lots of things to work on.”