Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

Kashima Antlers vow to stay focused to win Asian Champions League and a spot at Fifa Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi

The Japanese side have a two-goal lead ahead of Saturday's leg in Tehran against Persepolis

Kashima Antlers had plenty to celebrate in the first leg of the Asian Champions League final. Getty
Kashima Antlers had plenty to celebrate in the first leg of the Asian Champions League final. Getty

Japan's Kashima Antlers pledged to keep their focus and finish off Persepolis in the Asian Champions League final as they head to Tehran's Azadi Stadium with a 2-0 advantage from the first leg.

The eight-time Japanese champions go into the game with a handy cushion but they will face a test of nerve as well as skill at the 78,000-capacity Azadi.

Second-half goals from Brazilian duo Leo Silva and Serginho, who scored his fifth in five Champions League appearances, gave Kashima a convincing win last week on home soil.

But defender Shuto Yamamoto said an opening goal from Persepolis in Tehran would turn the tie upside down on Saturday as both teams bid to lift the trophy for the first time.


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"I believe it's important we don't concede the first goal, because if they score first they will build on that momentum. With that in mind I really want to focus at the beginning of the match," Yamamoto said, according to the Asian Football Confederation website.

"Of course, we don't want to concede and so having a strong defence and keeping an awareness of risk management is vital. But to win the game, one goal can change the situation entirely.

"Having a strong defence is a must, but when we have the opportunity to we will also look to score. This will be our style, I think."

With tickets virtually sold out, the game will set a new attendance record, eclipsing the second leg of the 2014 final when 63,763 watched Al Hilal and Western Sydney Wanderers at Riyadh's King Fahd International Stadium.

A fervent home atmosphere will boost the chances of Branko Ivankovic's team mounting another comeback, after they erased a two-goal deficit against Qatar's Al Duhail to reach the semi-finals.

"I never experienced playing in front of that many spectators before, so I am feeling excited to have the opportunity to do so," said Yamamoto.

"It will be a rare experience, but at the same time we want to win this game so we will do our best as a team."

Silva also said Kashima would have to be on their guard in Tehran, warning that "nothing is finished yet".

"We all worked together and did everything we needed to today, but now we have to make sure we keep our concentration and make sure that in the end we take the title," he said after last week's game.

Updated: November 9, 2018 01:46 PM



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