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.”
Sydney: FC Seoul coach Choi Yong-soo blamed crucial lapses in concentration as FC Seoul lost Wednesday's AFC Champions League semi-final second leg 2-0 to Western Sydney Wanderers to miss out on a second consecutive final appearance.
Former finalist Eugene Galekovic has hailed Western Sydney Wanderers for becoming the second Australian side to reach the AFC Champions League final ahead of Saturday's first leg, although the veteran goalkeeper is amazed by the speed in which the A-League's newest side have followed up Adelaide United's 2008 achievement.
Kuala Lumpur: Both Al Hilal and Western Sydney Wanderers were beaten in their repsective leagues over the weekend, dealing the duo a potentially damaging psychological blow ahead of next Saturday's AFC Champions League final first leg encounter in Australia.