Harry Kewell guides F.Marinos to historic AFC Champions League semis

Harry Kewell Guides Yokohama F.Marinos to AFC Champions League Semi-Finals for First Time

Harry Kewell has propelled Yokohama F.Marinos to their first-ever AFC Champions League semi-finals, a historic milestone for the club. Their journey to the final four was solidified with a 1-0 victory over Shandong Taishan, resulting in a 3-1 aggregate triumph on Wednesday night in Yokohama.

Former A-League standout Harry Kewell took the reins as head coach of J1 League runners-up F.Marinos after Kevin Muscat’s departure at the conclusion of the 2023 season in Japan. John Hutchinson, a revered figure at Central Coast Mariners, serves as his assistant.

F.Marinos had already secured a spot in the Champions League last 16 under Muscat’s guidance, progressing further to face two-time champions Ulsan Hyundai for a chance at the final in May. Anderson Lopes’ 75th-minute goal proved decisive, despite Katsuya Nagato’s red card in the second half.

“I am very pleased with our advancement in this competition,” expressed Kewell in a post-match interview with reporters. Reflecting on the challenges posed by the Champions League, he emphasized the team’s need to perform at their peak level, a sentiment echoed by his players’ commendable efforts.

The victory marked a significant achievement for F.Marinos, who have garnered one win and one defeat in their initial two matches in the J1 League. Their progression in the AFC Champions League underlines their competitive spirit and determination to excel on the continental stage.

Notably, F.Marinos had previously reached the Champions League last 16 in 2020 under the guidance of Australian legend Ange Postecoglou, and experienced a similar outcome during Muscat’s tenure in 2022. Kewell’s impact as head coach has been instrumental in the club’s recent success, setting the stage for an exciting semi-final clash with Ulsan Hyundai.

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