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Misao hails career-defining title

Sunday, November 11, 2018
Persepolis v Kashima Antlers - 2018 ACL final 2nd leg

Tehran: Kashima Antlers' Kento Misao believes the 2018 AFC Champions League crown is a title that will one day help define his career.

The 22-year-old played a key role as Japan’s Kashima Antlers sealed their maiden continental crown with a 0-0 second leg draw away to Persepolis of the Islamic Republic of Iran on Saturday, after winning the first leg of the final 2-0.

The young Japan star was in no doubt as to the magnitude of the team’s success, and is sure it is a triumph he will look back on with great pride in years to come.

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“After players retire you can see how they spent their careers by the number of titles they won. That is how we are assessed, and so with regards to my career I’m very happy to have won such a big title as the ACL.”

The Asian title was the only piece of silverware missing from Kashima’s imposing trophy cabinet, and Misao was delighted to have played a central role in finally delivering continental glory for the J.League’s most successful club.

“This was the only title Kashima hadn’t won, so the fact we were able to achieve this success, and, for me personally, the fact I was able to play regularly makes me very happy.”

Misao felt a lack of egos in Kashima’s squad was vital to them claiming the title.

“The team’s sense of unity (was key). Nobody plays for themselves and instead does so for the benefit of the team.”

The Tokyo-native is part of an exciting crop of young talent involved in Hajime Moriyasu’s new-look Japan squad, and he feels achieving ACL glory in such an intimidating environment – the Azadi Stadium was packed to the rafters and a cacophony of noise - will only help him develop as a player.

2018 Final - 2nd Leg: Persepolis v Kashima Antlers

“It was an incredible atmosphere, one that you don’t get the chance to savour very often, and we were able to become champions in it. I think that is important psychologically and for us as people.

“It helps with regards to knowing how to play against opponents around Asia and what their strong points are. Until now I have mostly come up against teams from East Asia, and so I think this will become a valuable experience.”

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