Giovinco urges Al Hilal teammates to forget the past, focus on the present
Saitama: Sebastian Giovinco has called on his Al Hilal SFC teammates to put the painful memories of defeat in the final of the 2017 AFC Champions League to one side and focus on delivering the club’s first continental title in a generation when they take on Urawa Red Diamonds on Sunday.
The Saudi Arabian giants have not won an Asian trophy since the creation of the AFC Champions League in 2002, with their last continental crown coming earlier that year when they defeated Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to lift the Asian Cup Winners Cup.
That title marked the end of a golden era for the Riyadh-based club, during which they won the Asian Club Championship twice and two Asian Super Cups as well as an additional Asian Cup Winners’ Cup trophy in 1996.
Preview – Final, 2nd Leg: Urawa Red Diamonds (JPN) vs Al Hilal SFC (KSA)
Saitama: History will be made on Sunday when Urawa Red Diamonds and Al Hilal take to the field for the second leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League final at Saitama Stadium.
Andre Carrillo’s second-half goal in the first leg means the Saudi side will start the return meeting 1-0 up as they aim to win the competition for the first time, while the hosts are targeting an unprecedented third title.
The teams also squared off at Saitama Stadium in the second leg two years ago, with Urawa claiming a 1-0 victory to be crowned champions after a 2-1 aggregate win.
Kanno in Lucescu's plans as Romanian plots Al Hilal win
Saitama: Al Hilal SFC coach Razvan Lucescu expects Mohammed Kanno to play a part in the second leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League final on Sunday against Urawa Red Diamonds as the influential midfielder continues his recovery from a hip injury.
The 25-year-old Saudi Arabia international picked up the injury in the first leg of the semi-final win over Qatar’s Al Sadd last month and only made a late appearance as a substitute in the first leg as Al Hilal picked up a 1-0 win over the Japanese side.
Saitama: Head coach Tsuyoshi Otsuki is expecting an “explosion” from his team on Sunday as Urawa Red Diamonds attempt to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit in the deciding clash of the 2019 AFC Champions League final when the Japanese side take on Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal SFC.
Andre Carrillo’s goal separates the teams after the first game in Riyadh two weeks ago to leave Urawa needing to score twice at Saitama Stadium to claim a record third AFC Champions League crown.
But while Otsuki will look to find the balance between pushing his team to score the goals needed to add this year’s title to the ones won in 2007 and 2017, he knows his players must strike the right balance between attack and defence in their bid to make history.
Saitama: The waiting is over and the last game of the 2019 AFC Champions League is almost upon us as Urawa Red Diamonds and Al Hilal get set to face off in the second leg of the final at Saitama Stadium on Sunday.
With Urawa a goal down but seeking an unprecedented third AFC Champions League crown and Al Hilal targeting a first to add to the many Asian titles they have won before, the-AFC.com has chosen five things to look out for ahead of the game.
Saitama: The second leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League final is now just a day away, with hosts Urawa Red Diamonds needing to overhaul a 1-0 deficit against Al Hilal if they are to lift the title for an unprecedented third time.
In 16 previous finals, history shows that the team that loses the first leg tends not to be crowned champions. Only Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad have managed the feat and that was back in 2004.
That does not, however, mean there haven’t been some classic encounters over the years and the-AFC.com has picked out five to whet your appetite ahead of Sunday’s game at Saitama Stadium.
Nishikawa: Riyadh watching brief has prepared me for Saitama
Saitama: Urawa Red Diamonds goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa believes his suspension in the first leg of the 2019 AFC Champions League final has played a role in getting him ready for Sunday's decider after his view from the stands gave him a new perspective on the tie.
For a man who has played 225 consecutive ties in the J.League — a run that lasted from May 11, 2013 until November 1, 2019 — Nishikawa's view of the AFC Champions League final action at King Saud University Stadium was an unfamiliar one.
It was not from his near ever-present role between the posts, but from a seat in the stands due his one-match suspension.
Nevertheless, the 33-year-old took the opportunity to turn the situation to his advantage and analyse the action ahead of the return meeting in Japan.