AFC Champions League east zone hots up with Japanese clubs leading quarter final match-ups

August 21 – The AFC Champions League 2022 (East) quarter-finalist draw has pitched Japan’s Vissel Kobe against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors of the Korea Republic. while Urawa Red Diamonds, also from Japan, will meet BG Pathum United of Thailand.

The centralised East zone AFC Champions League knock-out rounds are being played in Japan with two of the host countries teams having made it through to the last four in the East Zone.

The quarter finals will be played Monday night (August 22) with the semi-final to be played Thursday (August 25) in Saitama, the winner going through to play the AFCs West Zone winner in February 2023.

In the Round of 16, Vissel Kobe were surprise winners over J1 League leaders Yokohama F Marinos while Urawa Red Diamonds, AFC Champions League winners champions in 2007 and 2017, stormed past Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim 5-0.

Urawa face Thailand’s BG Pathum United who overcame Hong Kong’s Kitchee SC 4-0 to move into the quarter-finals for the first time on Friday.

First half goals from Worachit Kanitsribumphen and Ikhsan Fandi put the Thai League One side in control before Teerasil Dangda added his team’s third 22 minutes from time and Chatmongkol Tongkiri claimed a late fourth

While the player names are unfamiliar and the club is breaking new Champions League ground, they are not a completely unknown quantity

“Every team has shown something to be here in this moment, so any club is going to be difficult. I was coach of Bangkok Glass (as BG Pathum United were previously known) a few years ago so I have good memories, it will be a very special game for me,” said Rodriguez.

Vissel Kobe have a tough encounter against Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors who won the title in 2006 and 2016.

“No matter who we face, what we do and how we approach the game is going to be the same but we’ll be playing a fantastic team from Korea and we’re looking forward to that match,” said Vissel head coach Takayuki Yoshida.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors head coach Kim Sang-sik was similarly respectful to his opposition, pointing out the rivalry between the two nations as extra motivation.

“We’re focused on recovering the players mentally and physically and then we’re going to prepare for a good match with Vissel Kobe on Monday. There is a rivalry with Japan, so we’re going to try our best to get the win,” said Kim.

The winner of the East zone semi-final will play the winners of the West zone who don’t start their knockout rounds until February.

The final will be played over two legs on February 19 and 26.

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