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Saturday, June 22, 2024

I Went To The Asian Champions League Remaining For The 2nd 12 months In A Row


After surprisingly getting a ticket for the Asian Champions League (ACL) Remaining final yr (though technically it was the 2022 last) I actually was not anticipating to go to a different one anytime quickly. Nonetheless, after I observed that Yokohama F. Marinos had made it to the semi last of this yr’s match I started to assume it was a risk.

Marinos nearly squeezed their method by way of the semi-final towards Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai and so I waited patiently for tickets to go on common sale as soon as all the correct Marinos supporters had presumably aquired their seats for the massive recreation. With a stadium capability of 72,327, I used to be by no means too anxious about getting a ticket and didn’t really feel as responsible about taking one away from an actual fan this time. Having mentioned that, I did plan to purchase two tickets and take a pal however solely particular person seats have been accessible so I simply went alone.

Annoyingly for me, my very own workforce Kashiwa Reysol have been taking part in at FC Tokyo at a time after I was nonetheless in work however the 7:00 pm begin for the ACL last made it attainable to attend this one as an alternative in order quickly as my final lesson ended I headed to Shin Yokohama station as rapidly as attainable understanding I’d make it into the stadium with about 25 minutes to spare.

It could’ve been good to be there just a little earlier to savour the pre-match festivities however because it was there wasn’t an excessive amount of spectacle and environment, and it simply appeared like another Marinos dwelling match with so many others arriving pretty late for this showpiece event. Perhaps that’s as a result of everybody knew it wouldn’t be selected this specific evening.

As is usually the case these days, significantly large events, there was a pre-kick 0ff tifo (choreographed show) which can look wonderful for TV viewers however is form of annoying for me as a fan as I’ve to carry a bit of colored plastic sheeting above my head fairly than really watching and applauding the groups as they enter the sphere. That’s modern-day soccer although!

Australian managers Ange Postecoglou and Kevin Muscat guided Marinos to J1 League title successes in 2019 and and 2022 respectively however neither have been in a position to take the workforce  past the Spherical of 16 within the ACL. This yr is fellow Aussie Harry Kewell’s first season in administration, and while he’s struggled within the league, the previous Leeds and Liverpool striker has labored wonders in getting Marinos to their first continental last. Their opponents have been Al-Ain from the UAE who’re managed by former Argentinian worldwide Hernan Crespo.

An entertaining first half started with an early aim on 12 minutes from Al-Ain. That was not within the script and the house devoted have been shocked into silence on the half hour mark when a shot went by way of the legs of the Marinos keeper Popp. Fortunately VAR intervened to rule it out for offside and save the day for the Japanese workforce. Both facet of these efforts hitting the again of the web have been a sequence of wonderful saves from the Al-Ain goalie Eisa who appeared in impressed type and I used to be already pondering it wouldn’t be Yokohama’s evening.

 

Midfielder Asahi Uenaka headed dwelling the equaliser on 72 minutes and 12 minutes later issues bought higher. Substitue Kota Watanabe deflected dwelling an opportunity however celebrations have been short-lived because the lineman’s flag instantly went up for offside. The man in entrance of me accessed the dwell protection of the match on his cellphone and let everybody round him know that it was really onside. Expectations went up and moments later the aim was given to wild and rapturous celebrations.

My thoughts was already turning to the trains for getting dwelling because it’d been an extended day but it surely’s not daily (simply yearly!!) you get to attend such a last so I hung round for a bit at full time to witness the house crowd’s delight.

 

I feel that is the ultimate season of getting the ultimate as a house and away affair, and I’ve combined emotions about this. A two-legged last is sort of distinctive lately and does give followers the prospect to pack out their very own stadium for one of many video games as Marinos did right here.  Nonetheless, a single-match last on impartial territory does permit for a much bigger time out, and the match is set then and there. Asia is a a lot larger continent than Europe although, and with the west assembly the east within the last it’s not simple to determine on a impartial venue for a one-off match.

The environment was nice on the stadium on the ultimate whistle but it surely usually is after a victory, and in a method this didn’t really feel too completely different to another J-League win in. The job is simply half executed and so it didn’t actually really feel like a last to me. It’s first blood to the Japanese facet although and Kewell is only one draw away from profitable new silverware for the membership.  There’s an extended technique to go in additional methods than one although because the second leg is 8,000 kilometres away within the UAE in a fortnight and sadly solely a small variety of Marinos followers will get to expertise it.

Remaining Rating: Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan) 2-1 Al-Ain (UAE)

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