TOKYO (Reuters) - Striker Shinzo Koroki is very confident that Urawa Red Diamonds will turn the tables on Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal on Sunday as the Japanese side look to fight back from a first-leg loss to claim a record third Asian Champions League title.
Andre Carrillo’s solitary goal in Riyadh two weeks ago separates the teams ahead of their meeting at Saitama Stadium as Urawa aim to lift the trophy they won in 2007 and 2017.
Victory over Al Hilal - who Urawa defeated in the final two years ago - would make the J-League side the first team to win the title on three occasions since the start of the Asian Champions League in 2002.
But Tsuyoshi Otsuki’s side will need to put in an improved performance after a disappointing showing in Saudi Arabia, from which they were fortunate to escape with a narrow defeat.
“Even though we lost the first leg 1-0 we still have a chance and what you saw in Saudi Arabia and what you guys will see tomorrow will be two different things, I’m very sure of that,” Koroki said.
“Of course, we need to score at least two goals to win this title, so we have to press them really hard and work really hard. “But at the same time we have to stay balanced ourselves, we can’t just attack and attack or we will concede one and if we concede one we will have to score three, which makes it very difficult.”
Urawa welcome back goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa, who missed the first game due to suspension, while Al Hilal expect Saudi Arabia midfielder Mohamed Kanno to feature as he continues his return from a hip injury.
The Saudis are hoping to claim the title for the first time after losing in the final in 2014 and 2017.
Those failures hold bitter memories for Al Hilal, who were the continent’s most successful club two decades ago when they won two Asian Club Championship titles, two Asian Cup Winners Cup crowns and the Asian Super Cup twice from 1991 to 2002. “I’m expecting everybody to give everything in this game,” said Al Hilal coach Razvan Lucescu.
“For us, it’s maybe the most important game of our lives and everybody is ready to give their all.”
Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by Ed Osmond