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AFC Champions League

We need more quality up front, says Al Ain coach Hernan Crespo after loss to Yokohama in ACL final first leg

Published at :May 12, 2024 at 7:01 PM
Modified at :May 12, 2024 at 7:01 PM
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(Courtesy : AFC Media)

Khel Now

Hernan Crespo wants his side to utilise the home advantage.

Hernan Crespo has no doubt that Al Ain FC will get the job done in the return leg of the AFC Champions League 2023/24 final on May 25.

The United Arab Emirates side let slip a one-goal lead to lose 2-1 against Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos in a pulsating first leg on Saturday but Argentine Crespo is confident his team will have the edge in the reverse fixture at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium.

“I am very confident because we will play at home, with out fans backing us. Today (Saturday) was not easy as their fans supported them.

“In two weeks, we will have that and we must take advantage,” said Crespo. 

Al Ain, chasing a second title after having won the inaugural edition in 2003, enjoyed a dream start with Mohammed Abbas giving them the lead in the 12th minute. 

Mathias Palacios looked to have doubled their advantage on the half hour mark, only for his effort to be ruled out for offiside.

A determined Yokohama then took the game to Al Ain and their incessant pressure saw Asahi Uenaka and Kouta Watanabe scoring in the second half to give Harry Kewell’s side a slender advantage heading into the return leg. 

“We lost against great opponents who played very well but we did have chances which we didn’t put away. We need to analyse everything.

“We have another opportunity at home and I hope it will be different. What we need is a little bit more quality in front to be dangerous. We had some chances, but it wasn’t enough and that is credit to Yokohama as they didn’t give us much space.”

Besides becoming the final team to lift the AFC Champions League trophy before the tournament makes way for a new club competition structure from the 2024/25 season, the winners will also qualify for the expanded FIFA Club World Cup in the United States next year.

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