Yokohama F Marinos Aim for Asian Champions League Glory

Yokohama F Marinos winger Ryo Miyaichi believes his team can stay focused to overcome Al-Ain in the Asian Champions League final. With a slim lead from the first leg, Marinos seek their first title, coached by Harry Kewell, while Al-Ain aim for a second trophy.

Reuters | Updated: 23-05-2024 18:45 IST | Created: 23-05-2024 18:45 IST
Yokohama F Marinos Aim for Asian Champions League Glory

Yokohama F Marinos winger Ryo Miyaichi is confident the Japanese side can maintain their focus to overcome hosts Al-Ain in the second leg of the Asian Champions League final on Saturday and claim the continental title.

Miyaichi played a key role off the bench in the 2-1 first-leg win in Yokohama last Saturday that leaves the Harry Kewell-coached J.League outfit on the verge of winning the trophy in the last year of the competition in its current format. "The boss always tells us you have to focus until the final whistle and we want to do that," said Miyaichi, who set up Kota Watanabe to score Marinos' late first-leg winner.

"It's going to be a really tough game again, but we just want to enjoy it. It's the last game of the Asian Champions League, it's the final and this is why we play football. "We want to enjoy and we want to win."

Kewell is 90 minutes from becoming the first Marinos manager to win the title and, should he do so, the ex-Australia forward would surpass the achievements of countrymen Ange Postecoglou and Kevin Muscat despite only being appointed in late December. Marinos are also seeking to become the fourth Japanese winner in the last seven seasons of the championship, which is due to undergo a major overhaul ahead of the next campaign.

August will see the launch of the Asian Champions League Elite, a streamlined competition featuring 24 clubs – down from the current 40 – in the group phase. The new format also will replace the home-and-away knockout rounds with single match quarter-finals, semi-finals and final in a centralised venue in Saudi Arabia for the opening two seasons at least.

While Yokohama are aiming to win the trophy for the first time, Al-Ain are eyeing a second success and victory for the club from the United Arab Emirates would bring some symmetry to the competition's concluding campaign. Al-Ain won the inaugural Asian Champions League in 2002-03, when it was launched to replace the Asian Club Championship as the region's premier competition.

The club from the Garden City have appeared in two subsequent finals, losing in both 2005 and 2016, and the desire to reclaim the trophy has already seen Hernan Crespo's side defeat Saudi Pro League duo Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal. "Everybody wants this trophy so bad," said Al-Ain defender Khalid Al-Hashemi. "I hope from the bottom of my heart that we can give happiness to everybody in our country."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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