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Matchday Six: What They Said

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Kuala Lumpur: The 2019 AFC Champions League Group Stage came to an end this week with dramatic and exciting ties across Asia deciding the final 16 teams for the knockout stage.

Sleepless nights, title repeats, super subs, hellos and goodbyes all feature as talks to those involved in the latest edition of the Continent's most presitigious competition.

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"I really want to win the AFC Champions League again. The whole team has that goal in mind, to repeat our efforts from 2017, so we absolutely want to keep winning to achieve that."

Urawa Red Diamonds forward Shinzo Koroki says the two-time champions are motivated by thoughts of a third AFC Champions League title after Tuesday's 3-0 win over Beijing FC secured passage to the Knockout Stage.

👏 The complete cast for #ACL2019 Round of 16. Who are you supporting? Tell us!

— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) May 22, 2019

"We started this season in August 2018, and we still have one month to go before the season end. Some people think that the season is over for us, but it is not, as those with the Qatar national team still have one month to play, as we will compete in the Copa America next month." 

Qatar and Al Sadd star Akram Afif admitted his club side have shown sides of fatigue in recent matches after the 2-0 defeat to Persepolis that concluded their Group Stage campaign.

“All we’ve done is made it through the group stage and what’s important is what comes next. We won but now we have to put the group stage behind us and look ahead.”

Kashima Antlers' two-goal hero Sho Ito was not preparared to dwell on Wednesday's victory that kept the J.League side's title defence.

“I had great memories here in Al Ain, so it feels great to come back to the city and the club. I would like to thank Al Ain fans for welcoming me back and for everything they gave me during my time here."

Esteghlal coach Farhad Majidi was full of praise for Al Ain fans on his return to the city where he won the AFC Champions League 16 years ago.

“Last night when I got back to my hotel, I could hardly sleep – the goal, the moment, the atmosphere among the fans, it was like a movie that kept playing over and over in my head all night long."

Li Shenglong had a match to remember after scoring his first ever AFC Champions League goal in Shanghai SIPG's 5-0 win over Ulsan Hyundai that secured a place in the Round of 16.

"I think the boys will learn a lot from their 2019 AFC Champions League experience. We will improve year on year by participating in this competition. We are proud of JDT.

Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) coach Benjamin Mora believes that their maiden AFC Champions League campaign was a fantastic learning curve for his charges, and looks forward to future appearances in the tournament after their Group Stage exit.

🐯 💙 "We're very proud of JDT."

Coach Mora says #ACL2019 was a great experience for @OfficialJohor!

What are your favourite memories of their ACL debut?

— AFC Champions League (@TheAFCCL) May 23, 2019

"It's a little bit surreal because it's not easy to say goodbye. I suppose it's an end of a chapter now, that's all it is, it's an end of a chapter. There's a lot of good people that remain here and I look forward to watching the football club progress."

Melbourne Victory coach Kevin Muscat calls time at the club he spent 14 years as a player and coach following their final tie of the 2019 AFC Champions League on Wednesday.

"From the first minute until the last minute we fought together as a team. I’d have say it was one of our best games of the season."

Paulinho hailed the performance from Guangzhou Evergrande as the Brazilian scored the game's only goal in a 1-0 win over Daegu FC to secure a place in the 2019 AFC Champions League Round of 16.

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