Matchday Five: What They Said
Kuala Lumpur: The penultimate round of Group Stage matches in the AFC Champions League concluded this week and with it came plenty of exciting action across the breadth of Asia.
History-makers, baby-cradlers, hard-workers and hulking strikers all feature as the-AFC.com talks to those involved in the latest edition of the Continent's most presitigious competition.
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"When people talk about forwards, it'll surely be about the foreign players. For me, the absence of foreign players give me an opportunity and this was the time for me to prove what I can do and provide for the team."
Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) match-winner Syafiq Ahmad took full advantage of his chance to start up front due to the suspension of Brazilian star Diogo. The young forward scored the game's only goal as JDT defeated holders Kashima Antlers to win their first-ever AFC Champions League tie.
69' - GOAL!! 1-0 Johor Darul Ta'zim!!— FOX Sports LIVE! (@FSAsiaLive) May 8, 2019
JDT have taken the lead against the odds here as Syafiq Ahmad dances past one Kashima defender to get inside the box and then curls his shot into the far post! Johor lead against the Asian champions!!! #ACL2019 #JDTvKAS pic.twitter.com/ZH5EwphkLb
“We were a bit tired, especially as this is the first day of Ramadan and many of the players were fasting. Fatigue impacted us, especially in the second half, but the players fought hard and we got the all-important three points, so we are extremely delighted with that.”
Al Sadd's Tarek Salman commended his side for earning a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Al Ahli which sent the Qatari side to the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16.
“We understand that we’re in a tough situation now to qualify for the Round of 16 and we’ll be facing a difficult opponent. We need to do our best, train hard and set our sights and aims on reaching the knockout stage. I still feel we have a good chance to make it.”
Yu Dabao insists that Beijing FC can still make the knockout rounds of the 2019 AFC Champions League despite suffering a 1-0 home defeat to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
Kim Dae-won's Goal of the Week-winning strike _in Daegu FC's 4-0 win over Melbourne Victory was the pick of the bunch, and led to teammate Edgar coming up with a unique celebration. _
“I would like to commend the coach for the confidence he gave to everyone in the squad, including the youngsters. It is true that some players may get less playing time than others, but if you keep training hard, you will look good on the pitch when your chance arrives."
Al Nassr midfielder Abdulaziz Al Jebreen hailed coach Rui Vitoria for his selections in the side’s 3-1 victory over UAE’s Al Wasl.
"I think box-to-box midfielder is my best position and it allows me to add my presence to the attack when needed. So it was definitely a good action to attack the penalty area during this team move. I got into the box and was able to take the opportunity."
Marouane Fellaini reflects on his part in Shandong Luneng 2-1 win over Gyeongnam FC that secured the Chinese side a place in the last 16 of the AFC Champions League.
GOAL! | Shandong Luneng (CHN) 2-1 @GyeongnamFC (KOR)— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) May 8, 2019
😱 @Fellaini looks to have won it at the close for the hosts! What a turnaround! #SDLvGFC #ACL2019
Follow the action LIVE 👉 https://t.co/AE14Iv9ajZ pic.twitter.com/oJqKYFmoFz
"We worked hard in training in the build up to this match and it showed with our display on the pitch and the way we imposed our football on the opponents. We deserved to walk away with the three points, but we are satisfied with the result since it means we qualify to the next round.”
Al Duhail coach Rui Faria credited work on the training ground for his side’s qualification to the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16 after a 1-1 draw against Esteghlal at Azadi Stadium.
Nervous times for defenders across Asia with Shanghai SIPG star striker Hulk confirming he's back to his best after a brace against Kawasaki Frontale.
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