ACL Final: The Coaches
Kuala Lumpur: Saturday's first leg of the AFC Champions League final will see two teams in Al Hilal and Urawa Red Diamonds clash on Asia's grandest stage. The Continental heavyweights are a familiar sight at this level with four appearances in the competition's climax between them. For the men at their helms, however, this will be a new experience.
Al Hilal coach Razvan Lucescu has prior experience of taking a side deep into the AFC Champions League after he led Qatar's El Jaish into the knockout stage of the 2013 edition, while Urawa's tactician Tsuyoshi Otsuki has been among the Urawa backroom staff during previous campaigns.
Nevertheless, the 2019 final will be the first time either will run the dugout in the most prestigious match in Asian club football. The-AFC.com profiles the men tasked with taking their teams to Asian glory.
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Former Clubs: Mito HollyHock, Omiya Ardija, Vegalta Sendai
Long-time member of the Urawa Red Diamonds backroom staff Tsuyoshi Otsuki replaced Brazilian coach Oswaldo de Oliveira at the end of May and has gone on to lead the Saitama club to their third AFC Champions League final.
This is the 46-year-old’s second spell in charge of the club after Otsuki also took over the Urawa helm on a temporary basis following the departure of Takafumi Hori 2018.
As a player, Otsuki turned out for local club Sony Sendai but has enjoyed more prominence as a coach having spent spells at Mito HollyHock, Omiya Ardija and Vegalta Sendai, aside from various stints at Urawa.
While their league form has continued to disappoint, there's no question that under Otsuki Urawa have raised their game even higher on the Continent.
Coming back from a 2-1 deficit from the first leg to smash Ulsan Hyundai 3-0 in Korea Republic in the Round of 16 was particularly impressive, as was eliminating the top two sides in China PR, Shanghai SIPG and Guangzhou Evergrande, in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.
Preferred Formation: 3-4-2-1
Former Clubs: PAOK, Xanthi, Petrolul Ploiesti, El Jaish, Rapid Bucharest, FC Brazov
Razvan Lucescu arrived at Al Hilal on the crest of a wave after an incredible season with Greek side PAOK in 2018-19.
Not only did the Romanian coach wrestle the top-division title away from Athens’ big three of Olympiacos, Panathinaikos and AEK Athens for the first time since 1988, but he did so with an unbeaten campaign.
The son of legendary coach Mircea Lucescu, the 50-year-old has also enjoyed success with Rapid Bucharest in his homeland and spent two years in charge of the Romanian national team.
Lucescu guided El Jaish to Qatari Stars Cup glory in his only other spell in Asia as well as helming them to a Round of 16 finish at the 2013 AFC Champions League.
In his return to the Continental competition, the Romanian has guided Hilal to back-to-back eliminations of Saudi rivals Al Ahli and Al Ittihad in the Round of 16 and quarter-finals. The semi-final was a rollercoaster affair against Qatar's Al Sadd but Lucescu's side did just enough to reach a third Continental final.
Preferred Formation: 4-2-3-1
Head to Head
Al Hilal (KSA) vs Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN)
Venue: King Saud University Stadium, Riyadh
Kick-off: November 9, 19:30 UTC+3
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