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More to come from Vissel Kobe, warns Fink

Thursday, February 13, 2020
Vissel Kobe v JDT-ACL2020-AFP

Kobe: Thorsten Fink warned Vissel Kobe’s future opponents in the AFC Champions League there is more to come from his side after the J.League club handed Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta’zim a 5-1 defeat without the services of key midfielder Hotaru Yamaguchi.

The Japan international was ruled out of the game due to fever but his absence had little impact on Vissel as Andres Iniesta inspired the Emperor’s Cup winners to a comfortable win, with Keijiro Ogawa scoring a hat-trick as Kobe signaled their intent in the 2020 AFC Champions League.

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“It was a good result for us,” said Fink. “In the first half we had some problems, but in the second half we put them under more and more pressure and that’s why we succeeded and scored five goals.

“We had a goal scorer, Ogawa, who scored three times but we also had problems because Hotaru was sick. Yesterday he had fever, so we had to change the team. But we have good players, young players and they made everything good.”

Group G - MD1: Vissel Kobe 5-1 Johor Darul Ta'zim

While Yamaguchi missed Wednesday’s game, Fink insisted he would be fit for next week’s meeting with Suwon Samsung Bluewings in Korea Republic while playing 90 minutes without the former Cerezo Osaka man in midfield meant Vissel had benefited from his absence.

“Hotaru today was fine, he didn’t have any more fever so he’s fine for tomorrow and next week and for training,” said Fink.

“We knew we would have more ball possession and we wanted to play more offence. It was the right decision to play the way we did and it’s not good for our opponents because they don’t know how we will play in the future.

“It’s good for my team that they know that we can change the system and we can play more systems.”

FULL-TIME! | @visselkobe 🇯🇵 5-1 @OfficialJohor 🇲🇾

👏 As emphatic a debut as you'll see at the #ACL! Ogawa's hat-trick and Iniesta's class saw Vissel to a comfortable win in their opener.#VKOvJDT | #ACL2020

— #ACL2020 (@TheAFCCL) February 12, 2020

Ogawa picked up the Most Valuable Player award for his performance, which saw him find the back of the net on three occasions against a JDT defence that had no answer for the 27-year-old.

After giving his side the lead 13 minutes into the game with a well-judged finish following Iniesta’s ball from inside his own half, Ogawa claimed his second in the 58th minute to put Vissel 3-1 up.

He then added his side’s fifth with a close range header following another exquisite pass from Iniesta 18 minutes from time.

“We were able to go into the game with a high level of concentration and I was able to perform well and I scored a hat-trick, so I feel good about that,” said Ogawa.

“But it’s still early, it’s still the first match and we need to stay focused and we need to keep going forward. This is just the start.”

Photos: AFP, AFC

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