Kashima's Oiwa hails his champions
Tehran: Go Oiwa apologised for his hoarse voice but he didn't have to for the 100,000 fans in Tehran's Azadi Stadium that had seen the Kashima Antlers head coach on his feet shouting throughout the second leg of the 2018 AFC Champions League final on Saturday.
Aiwa led from the front as Kashima utilised their game plan to perfection to blunt Persepolis, holding the Islamic Republic of Iran side to a 0-0 draw to win their first AFC Champions League title 2-0 on aggregate.
Fittingly, the title the Japanese club craved the most turned out to be the 20th major honour in their history and Oiwa paid tribute to his players.
"It was a very tough game but my players were very mobile, battled well and I am delighted with the result. I lost my voice but it is worth it," said Oiwa.
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He proved his acumen as he had promised, took the match to Persepolis from the first blow of the whistle.
They were not overly aggressive in front of goal but the players did their best to limit Persepolis' forays and it delivered the desired result.
"I am so proud that we have won the AFC Champions League title for the first time. We played Real Madrid in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup two years go but for me, tonight is more satisfying as we won the title.
"The name of Kashima Antlers will now echo throughout Asia."
Oiwa also paid tribute to Persepolis.
"Persepolis were the strongest team we played in the AFC Champions League this year. It is not just the team and tactics, but their fans too who were magnificent
"I said yesterday (Friday) that our aim was to win in the Azadi Stadium but we all saw how difficult it is to play Persepolis in their home ground. I wish them all the best."
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