Soccer-Fink steps down as Vissel Kobe manager

Sept 23 (Reuters) - Vissel Kobe’s Asian Champions League hopes have suffered a blow after Thorsten Fink stepped down as manager, with the German saying he had decided to return to his family.

Fink took charge of the J-League side in June last year and guided them to their first Emperor’s Cup title. Kobe also won the Japanese Super Cup, defeating reigning J-League champions Yokohama F Marinos in the final.

However, Kobe, who are captained by former Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, have struggled this season, picking up just 20 points from 19 league games.

“It is not easy to say goodbye to this city, this team or these supporters but I have decided to return to my family,” Fink said in a statement on the club’s website.

“I still believe the team can achieve good results in the league and the Asian Champions League, and I wish the club the best of luck.”

Asia’s elite club competition was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic but resumed earlier this month in the West Asia hub of Qatar.

Kobe, who top Group G in the East Zone with two wins from two games, will resume their campaign against Guangzhou Evergrande on Nov. 25 in a Malaysia hub. (Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford )