Kawasaki: Kawasaki Frontale coach Yahiro Kazama hopes the home comforts of Kawasaki Todoroki Stadium will prove crucial in Tuesday’s meeting with Australia’s Western Sydney Wanderers in the AFC Champions League with the J.League side’s continental campaign on the line.
Two-time quarter-finalists Kawasaki had started the campaign well with a 1-0 home win over China’s Guizhou Renhe.
But Kazama’s J.League side have since suffered back-to-back away defeats by Korea Republic’s Ulsan Hyundai and Western Sydney to slip down to third place in the Group H table and they could be eliminated with a third defeat of the campaign on Tuesday.
Kawasaki, though, are boosted by Friday’s 1-0 home win over Nagoya Grampus which followed on from the previous week’s 4-0 away success over FC Tokyo following their return from Australia.
“We will be able to play at our home stadium on Tuesday so I want us to produce our best performance to get a good result,” said Kawasaki coach Kazama with his side three points adrift of second-placed Western Sydney with three games remaining.
“I expect that our team will produce a good performance. If we can perform our style on the pitch we can get a good result so we should concentrate on tomorrow's match.”
Last month’s win lifted AFC Champions League debutants Western Sydney up to second place in the Group H table, leaving Tony Popovic’s side just a point adrift of table-toppers Ulsan having beaten Guizhou in China a week earlier and potentially just a win away from a place in the last 16.
And despite the weekend’s 2-1 defeat by Central Coast Mariners, which saw Western Sydney slip to third place in the A-League table, Popovic insists his side have made the trip to Japan full of confidence following last month’s 1-0 win over Kawasaki which was secured thanks to a Labinot Haliti’s early strike at Parramatta Stadium.
“I expect it will be very tough for us playing against Frontale, but we have confidence now because we beat them in the last match,” said Popovic, who knows his side can secure qualification for the last 16 with two games to spare should they win and Guizhou fail to beat Ulsan.
“I want to win Tuesday’s match and improve following our performance in the last match.”
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Riyadh: Al Shabab coach Amar Souayah described his team’s match against Esteghlal as a ‘cup final’ after the Saudi club overcame the Iranian side 2-1 with a pair of late goals at the King Fahd International Stadium.
Riyadh: Home team Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia come into Wednesday night’s Group A fixture against Iran’s Esteghlal at the top of the group and riding high from their King’s Cup quarter-final win over fellow AFC Champions league side Al Hilal last Friday.