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Al Hilal's Jang: We talked our way to success

Saitama: With communication the key to their victory, Jang Hyun-soo’s crash course in English played a key role in the former Korea Republic international helping Al Hilal SFC secure the 2019 AFC Champions League title on Sunday.

Jang’s performance at the heart of the Saudi Arabian club’s defence kept Urawa Red Diamonds at bay before goals from Salem Al Dawsari and Bafetimbi Gomis ensured the club from Riyadh finally won the title.

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Al Hilal’s long-awaited first AFC Champions League win came in their third appearance in the final, and former FC Tokyo defender Jang stressed learning to express himself in a language his teammates use was essential to his on-field success.

#ACLFinal 2019 - 2nd Leg: Urawa Red Diamonds vs Al Hilal SFC

“We try to communicate and figure things out as the game unfolds and that is a reason we were able to beat Urawa,” said Jang, who represented his homeland at the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Finals.

“Urawa are a side that can keep the ball, so we wanted to pressure them from the front. We thought it would be a key part of the game."

“The Urawa players are very technical but all of our players are pretty experienced. We discussed amongst ourselves how we should approach the game and being able to have that conversation led to the title.

“When I first got here, I could barely speak English and had a hard time communicating with my teammates. But I worked hard at learning English so I could speak to them.”

The success is Jang’s first since joining Al Hilal from J.League side FC Tokyo in the summer and with his old team locked in battle for the league title he still keeps a keen eye on his former teammates.

“I still watch every FC Tokyo game including yesterday’s,” he said. “I really hope they win the championship as well.

“I didn’t have the opportunity to properly say goodbye to everyone before I transferred and I feel sorry about that. I want them to win the title no matter what and lift the trophy.”

Next up for Jang, however, will be Al Hilal’s involvement in the FIFA Club World Cup 2019, where they will meet Tunisia’s Esperance in their opening game on December 14 in Qatar.

But while the African champions await the Saudi club, Jang is setting his sights on eventually facing European champions Liverpool.

“The FIFA Club World Cup will be a terrific experience,” he said. “It will be difficult but we will play hard in all our games, I can guarantee you that. I can’t wait to play against (Liverpool defender Virgil) van Dijk!”

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