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Al-Hilal eyes Asian title in Saitama final


May 5, 2023
Al-Hilal eyes Asian title in Saitama final


Saudi Gazette report

TOKYO — Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal completed preparations to take on Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds in the second leg of the Asian Champions League final on Saturday in Saitama, north of Tokyo, after a 1-1 draw in last week’s opener in Riyadh.

Al Hilal and Urawa are meeting in the final of Asia’s premier club competition on Saturday for the third time in six years — Urawa came out on top in 2017 but Al Hilal got revenge two years later.

Al Hilal will be without injured captain Salman Al Faraj and star winger Salem Al Dawsari, who was sent off late in the first leg for kicking out at Urawa’s Ken Iwao.

Al Hilal coach Ramon Diaz said his team is ready to overcome Urawa and win a third Asian title in four seasons.

“This is a very experienced team and we have played in many situations like this,” he told a press conference on Friday.

“We are strong and we are looking forward to winning the trophy.”

“We were not expecting to miss two key players but we have a full squad and all the players are ready,” he said.

Away goals still count as a tie-breaker, giving Urawa a slight advantage as they prepare to play in front of close to 60,000 fans at Saitama Stadium.

Al-Hilal are record four-time Champions League winners and the defending title holders of the tournament, having defeated South Korea’s Pohang Steelers for the 2021 title. Although the Saudi Arabian side will be the favourites, the defensively stout Urawa haven’t lost in 11 matches since a 2-0 league defeat to Yokohama on February 25.


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