Kakitani targets AFC Champions League title with Nagoya
Bangkok: As Nagoya Grampus prepare to make their long-awaited return to the AFC Champions League, Yoichiro Kakitani has admitted that he has his sights set on the Japanese side being crowned continental champions.
Nagoya last appeared in the competition in 2012 when they reached the Round of 16, after which they suffered a downturn of fortunes that culminated in relegation to the second tier in 2016 before returning to the top flight a year later.
After a period of restabalisation Nagoya then returned to the upper echelons of the J1 League, with a third-place finish last season ensuring direct entry into the 2021 AFC Champions League and Kakitani is now aiming to continue the upward trajectory.
2021 AFC Champions League (East): Five Forwards in Form
Kuala Lumpur: As the big kick off to the 2021 AFC Champions League rapidly approaches, the-AFC.com takes a look at the strikers who are poised to make a difference in the eastern side of the continent.
With no shortage of attacking talent on display, we shine the spotlight on five frontmen who are on fire in their clubs’ domestic campaigns and could be set to bring those hot streaks onto the Asian stage in this year's continental club competition.
Tashkent: Uzbekistan's capital welcomes Japanese champions Kawasaki Frontale, Korea Republic's Daegu FC, United City FC of the Philippines and China PR's Beijing FC to Group I of the 2021 AFC Champions League with the action kicking off on Saturday.
Three J1 League titles in the past four years and leading the way this time, Kawasaki will look to bring domestic dominance to the continent, while Daegu return for a second time, Beijing rely on youthful zest and United City are set to make their long-awaited debut in the AFC Champions League.
Tashkent: The kick off to the 2021 AFC Champions (East) is now just days away with the four teams in Group H beginning their campaigns in Uzbekistan on Friday.
And it's a group with plenty of pedigree as two-time AFC Champions League winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of Korea Republic and 2008 champions Gamba Osaka of Japan lead the cast. The pair are joined by Thailand's Chiangrai United, who return for the second successive year, and Singaporean debutants Tampines Rovers.
Buriram: Thailand's Buriram Stadium will see hosts Port FC welcome China PR's Guangzhou FC, Hong Kong champions Kitchee SC and Cerezo Osaka of Japan to Group J of the 2021 AFC Champions League with the action set to kick off on Thursday.
The 2021 edition sees Port make their long-awaited debut in the AFC Champions League while Kitchee return for the first time since 2018 boasting a continental superstar with a record in his sights.
Bangkok: The 2021 AFC Champions League (East) gets underway on Tuesday when the four teams in Group G kick off their campaigns at Thailand's Rajamangala Stadium.
Ratchaburi Mitr Phol from the host country will make their continental debut and they will be joined by Southeast Asian rivals Johor Darul Ta'zim of Malaysia, 2009 winners Pohang Steelers of Korea Republic and Japan's Nagoya Grampus, who return for the first time since 2012.
Safiq Rahim geared up for AFC Champions League bow with Johor Darul Ta’zim
Bangkok: Midfielder Safiq Rahim is looking forward to making his AFC Champions League debut for Malaysia's Johor Darul Ta’zim in their Group G opener against Japan's Nagoya Grampus on Tuesday.
Johor Darul Ta'zim will feature in the group stage for the second time, having withdrawn from last year's competition, and also have Ratchaburi FC of Thailand and Korea Republic’s Pohang Steelers for company as the Malaysian champions set their sights on advancing to the Round of 16.