HONG KONG (Reuters) – said Go Oiwa, chief coach Kashima Antlers, announced hitting Japan's fighting in Iran to hold the title of the first Asian Champions League more satisfying than pressing Real Madrid by the final in the FIFA Club World Cup final two years ago.
Kashima informed their first continental title with a beautiful draw against Persepolis at the Azadi Stadium on Saturday to seal a whole victory following a 2-0 win on homeland in the opening leg last week.
With the victory, Oiwa's team became the second Japanese club in succession to win the Asian Champions League after the success of Urawa Reds in 2017, gaining another Kashima trip to the FIFA World Cup in the United Arab Emirates next month
"I'm so proud that we have won the title of the Asian Champions League for the first time," said Oiwa to reporters.
"We played Real Madrid in the FIFA Club World Cup final two years ago, but for me, tonight is more satisfactory as we win the title.
"The name of Kashima Antlers will now echo throughout Asia."
Oiwa was an assistant coach when Kashima, qualifying as the JLeague champions, arrived at the FIFA 2016 Club World Cup final on homeland and took over at the launch when Masatada Ishii was launched six months later.
In that final, Cristiano Ronaldo Real's conclusion reached a 4-2 full-time victory in Yokohama and Antlers could face the Spanish horses again in the global tournament finals next month if they can find a way past Mexico Guadalajara.
Antlers' title was built on an impressive win in the first leg when Brazil's trend, Leo Silva and Serginho scored to give Japan champions eight times a significant second-hand advantage in front of 80,000 supporters in Tehran.
Despite a brave effort by the side of Branko Ivankovic to transport themselves back to the game, with Ali Alipour's assault a constant threat, Kashima went to become the third Japanese club to win the Asia Champions League since its inception in 2002.
"It was a very tough game but my players were very mobile, I was fighting well and I'm very proud of the result. I'm losing my voice but it's worth, "added Oiwa.
"Persepolis was the strongest team we played in the Asia Champions League this year. It's not just the team and tactics, but their supporters, which was great.
"I said our goal is to win at the Azadi Stadium, but we all saw how hard it was to play Persepolis in their homes. I wish them and the best."
(Report by Michael Church; Edited by John O Brien)