Ueki aims to replace World Cup heartbreak with Asian glory
Yongin: Nippon TV Beleza wonderkid Riko Ueki has revealed her determination to capture the inaugural Asian title in Saturday’s potentially decisive AFC Women’s Club Championship clash against Australia’s Melbourne Victory.
The 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup-winning forward says it’s up to Beleza to bring the title back to Japan and reinforce the country’s reputation as Asian’s women’s football powerhouse.
Claiming the title would provide Ueki with a positive end to a rollercoaster year, which has included the highs of a trophy-laden campaign for Beleza and a senior international debut for Japan, as well the heartbreak of missing the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup due to a last-minute injury.
MD3 Preview: Melbourne Victory vs Nippon TV Beleza
Yongin: Japanese powerhouse Nippon TV Beleza will go into Saturday’s AFC Women’s Club Championship clash against W-League Premiers Melbourne Victory in the knowledge that a win will earn them a history-making title.
The 17-time Nadeshiko League champions lead the pack after following an opening day draw with a crucial 2-0 win over Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels on Thursday, meaning their one-point lead over the tournament hosts will become an insurmountable four-point gap should they successfully see off the Australian side.
While a win against Victory will seal a maiden Continental title, a draw would significantly muddy the waters – with Beleza then relying on a favourable result in Saturday’s other match – while a defeat could see Masato Nagata’s side finish as low as third.
MD3 Preview: Jiangsu Suning Ladies FC vs Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels
Yongin: With one match remaining in the inaugural AFC Women’s Club Championship, there will be an air of excitement, but also mystery, for Jiangsu Suning and Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels ahead of their clash on Saturday.
Depending on the result in the earlier match between Melbourne Victory and Nippon TV Beleza, the FIFA-AFC Pilot Tournament’s final match could either be a tournament decider or a dead rubber.
If Beleza win their match they will be crowned champions, but a Melbourne win or draw opens all sorts of possibilities for both the Red Angels and Jiangsu, who both remain in contention for a historic piece of silverware.
Maher sees bright future for Asian women’s club game
Yongin: Melbourne Victory’s Grace Maher said she hopes the AFC Women’s Club Championship becomes a regular part of the Asian football calendar, after she became the first player from an Australian club to score a goal at the Continental level on Thursday.
Maher opened the scoring in her side’s 1-1 draw with Chinese champions Jiangsu Suning to write her name into the history books and the promising midfielder sees a future where many more players will have the chance to follow in her footsteps.
MD2: Jiangsu Suning Ladies FC 1-1 Melbourne Victory
Yongin: A youthful Melbourne Victory claimed their first AFC Women’s Club Championship point after holding Chinese champions Jiangsu Suning Ladies FC to a 1-1 draw at Yongin Citizens Sports Park on Thursday.
The Australian club opened the scoring through an early Grace Maher header, before Jiangsu failed to find a winning goal despite creating several chances following Tang Jiali’s near-immediate equaliser.
The result leaves Victory on one point from two matches in the FIFA-AFC Pilot Tournament, while Jiangsu were forced to settle for a second draw in three days after sharing the spoils with Nippon TV Beleza on Matchday One.
MD2: Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels 0-2 Nippon TV Beleza
Yongin: Japan’s Nippon TV Beleza moved to the top of the AFC Women’s Club Championship table with one match remaining after goals from Riko Ueki and Rikako Kobayashi secured a 2-0 win over Korea Republic champions Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels on Thursday.
Ueki’s header opened the scoring just after half time, before Kobayashi sealed the win in the dying seconds, helping Masato Nagata’s side to leapfrog the tournament hosts and put themselves 90 minutes away from being Asia’s first ever women’s club champions.
With four points from two matches, Beleza’s win means they’ll be able to seal the inaugural club crown with a win over Australia’s Melbourne Victory on Saturday, while the tournament hosts, who are a point behind, could go into their match with Jiangsu Suning with the title already lost.
MD1: Nippon TV Beleza 1-1 Jiangsu Suning Ladies FC
Yongin: Nippon TV Beleza and Jiangsu Suning shared the AFC Women’s Club Championship’s first ever points, playing out a 1-1 draw in the opening match of the FIFA/AFC Pilot Tournament at Yongin Citizens Sports Park on Tuesday.
Jiangsu’s impressive Malawian striker Tabitha Chawinga wrote her name into the history books with the tournament’s first goal in the seventh minute, but Beleza were level just three minutes later thanks to Mjna Tanaka before a second half arm-wrestle.
The result keeps both sides in title contention with two further matches to play in the competition.