Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Japan: Kashiwa secure 2012 Emperor’s Cup

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on January 1, 2013

In the first major footballing showpiece final of this year, Kashiwa Reysol secured Japanese football’s major domestic knockout competition when defeating Gamba Osaka 1-0 in the 2012 (yes, that is 2012 as opposed to 2013) Emperor’s Cup final in the National Stadium in Tokyo.

Kashiwa Reysol went into the game as favourites, the team having finished the 2012 J-League 1 season in a respectable sixth place. In contrast their opponents Gamba Osaka finished the most recent league campaign in seventeenth place in the 18 team league and were relegated into J-League 2 for next season. Despite this Gamba Osaka gave it their all and were unfortunate to have a goal chalked off for offside early in the game. Kashiwa Reysol, however, would ultimately make Osaka pay as Hirofumi Watanabe’s goal in the 35th minute proved the difference between the two teams.

Kashiwa’s victory was the third time that the club had won Japan’s version of the F.A. Cup, the other two Emperor’s Cup titles coming in the 1970s when Reysol were known as Hitachi Sports Club, whilst today’s success ensures that Kashiwa have won a major trophy for the third season in succession following their 2010 J-League 2 and 2011 J-League 1 successes. Kashiwa Reysol will also take part in the 2013 AFC Champions League as their reward for today’s cup heroics.

Asia: Saudi clubs impose themselves on Champions League

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on May 31, 2012

AFC CHmapions League trophySaudi Arabian football will be well represented in the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League. Following this week’s Round of 16 matches three sides from Saudi Arabia made it through to the last eight with another five teams, all hailing from different nations,  to join them in the business end of the tournament.

Al Ahli, who finished second in their domestic championship this season, will join compatriots Al Ittihad and Al Hilal with all three teams encountering different levels of difficulty in order to qualify. Al Ahli had to go through the tension and drama of a penalty shoot-out following a 3-3 after extra-time against UAE outfit Al Jazira. Al Hilal made much easier work of another side from the United Arab Emirates, namely Baniyas SC, thrashing them to the tune of seven goals to one with Korean Byung-Soo Yoo getting on the score sheet four times. Al Ittihad also made light work of Iranian giants Persepolis, eliminating the Tehran based club 3-0.

In the all-Iranian clash Sepahan FC, who won their domestic championship this season, will hope to add continental honours to the trophy cabinet after defeating Esteghlal 2-0 thanks to goals from Bruno Correa and Mohsen Bengar. South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai won through a difficult encounter by the odd goal in five in a 3-2 win over Japanese champions Kashiwa Reysol. South Korea’s representation was halved, however, following the elimination of 2010 Asian champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma who lost out to a Hayrulla Karimov penalty in a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Uzbekistan champions Bunyodkor FC.

China and Australia also enjoy representation in the last eight following triumphs for Ghangzhou Evergrande and Adelaide United respectively. Ghangzhou, now under the management of former FIFA World Cup winner Marcello Lippi, were thankful to Brazilian striker Cleo who was the lone marksman on target in a 1-0 win over FC Tokyo. Australian side Adelaide also went through against Japanese opposition, defeating Nagoya Grampus Eight by the same score line thanks to a Jonathan McKain goal three minutes before the half-time break.

The draw for the remainder of the tournament will be made on Friday, June 14th in Kuala Lumpur.

In the AFC Cup each of the eight quarter-finalists hails from a different nation as the competition proves to be geographically diverse. The biggest winners in the Round of 16 stage were Iraqi side Arbil SC who defeated Neftchi Farg’ona of Uzbekistan by four goals to nil. Kelantan got the better of compatriots Terengganu as the all-Malaysian clash finished in a 3-2 win for the former. Arema FC, who hail from Indonesia, also went through at the expense of Hong Kong champions Kitchee SC with a 2-0 win. There were also wins for Al Kuwait, Al Ettifaq (Saudi Arabia), Al Wehdat (Jordan), Al Shorta (Syria) and Chonburi FC (Thailand).

Asia: Tough challenges ahead for Asian football’s finest

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on May 17, 2012

AFC Champions LeagueAsian football’s two major continental tournaments have reached the knockout stages following the conclusion of the group stages this week.

The AFC Champions League is usually dominated by South Korean clubs but only two of this year’s four representatives have made it through the group stage. The two successful clubs are Ulsan Hyundai and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, both of whom topped their groups with unbeaten records, whilst the unfortunate clubs to depart the tournament are last season’s losing finalists Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Pohang Steelers. The latter two clubs, who have been crowned Asian champions four times between them, could only finish third in their respective groups and are eliminated.

The most successful countries in this year’s group stages are Japan, Iran and Saudi Arabia who all have three clubs remaining in the last sixteen. Gamba Osaka, the last Japanese team to win the Asian Champions League, was the only J-League club to fail to progress this time with Nagoya Grampus Eight, FC Tokyo and Kashiwa Reysol going on to represent Japan in the latter stages. Al-Ittihad and Sepahan FC, the last Asian champions from the nations of Saudi Arabia and Iran respectively, have made it through to the last sixteen with both clubs finishing top of their groups. Al Hilal and Al Ahli also progress as Saudi Arabian representatives while Iran can count on two of Asian football’s biggest names, Esteghlal and Persepolis, to provide tough competition in the latter stages.  The United Arab Emirates will feature two clubs in the latter rounds. Al Jazira finished top of Group A with an unbeaten record whilst Baniyas Sports Club finished second in Group B behind Al Ittihad and well above Nasaf Qarshi, the club from Uzbekistan who gained a place in this year’s AFC Champions League having won the secondary AFC Cup in 2011.

Nasaf’s compatriots Bunyodkor are the only club from their nation still involved in the last sixteen with the ambitious Tashkent based side hoping that the major investment pumped into the club over the last five years will soon pay off. Australian side Adelaide United, who finished above Bunyodkor in Group E, are the only side from Down Under to make it through while Central Coast Mariners and two-time defending A-League champions Brisbane Roar, were easily swept aside by stronger opponents. The only country left remaining with one representative in the top competition is China who will rely on Ghangzhou Evergrande to fly the flag. The club has announced today (see previous report) that former FIFA World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi has joined on a two-and-a-half year deal and expectations are high that Ghangzhou could become the first Chinese club to become Asian champions for a quarter of a century.


Adelaide United (Australia) v Nagoya Grampus Eight (Japan)

Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia) v Baniyas SC (UAE)

Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia) v Persepolis (Iran)

Al Jazira (UAE) v Al Ahli (Saudi Arabia)

Ghangzhou Evergrande (China) v FC Tokyo (Japan)

Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma (South Korea) v Bunyodkor FC (Uzbekistan)

Sepahan (Iran) v Esteghlal (Iran)

Ulsan Hyundai (South Korea) v Kashiwa Reysol (Japan)

The AFC Cup, Asian football’s equivalent of the Europa League or Copa Sudamericana, will see three Kuwaiti teams progress to the last sixteen. Two of those three, Al Qadsia and Al Kuwait, will meet each other in the Round of 16 whilst Kazma Sports Club face the only remaining Jordanian side Al Wehdat SC. Another tie which features two teams from the same country is the all-Malaysian affair between Kelantan and Terengganu. Iraq is the final nation to be represented by two clubs in the latter stages, namely Arbil SC and Al Zawra’a SC, while another seven nations will be represented by lone representatives in a competition showing great diversity, as is shown in the draw (below):


Al Qadsia (Kuwait) v Al Kuwait (Kuwait)

Al Ettifaq (Saudi Arabia) v Al Suwaiq (Oman)

Al Wehdat (Jordan) v Kazma Sports Club (Kuwait)

Al Shorta (Syria) v Home United (Singapore)

Arbil SC (Iraq) v Neftchi Farg’ona (Uzbekistan)

Chonburi (Thailand) v Al Zawra’a (Iraq)

Kitchee SC (Hong Kong) v Arema FC (Indonesia)

Kelantan (Malaysia) v Terengganu (Malaysia)

China: Lippi takes over Ghangzhou Evergrande

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on May 17, 2012

Marcello LippiChinese club Ghangzhou Evergrande have made a statement of intent for the year ahead by appointing former FIFA World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi to take charge of the team.

Lippi takes over a club who are in fine health having won their maiden Chinese Super League last season and leading ten games into the current campaign with 22 out of 30 points (seven wins, one draw, two defeats), one more than nearest challengers Ghangzhou R&F. Evergrande are also in the Round of 16 in the AFC Champions League where they face off against FC Tokyo. For Lippi, and Evergrande owner Xu Jiayin, the aim is for the club to consistently compete at home and abroad with the intention of becoming a major force in Asian football.

Lippi has spoken of his intention “to bring the Italian football concepts to China” and he will have a difficult act to follow given that his predecessor, South Korean coach Lee Jang-Soo, was the man who brought the long-awaited title to Evergrande. However the club has decided that big moves need to be taken if they are to maintain their place at the top of Chinese football and stay one step ahead of Shanghai Shenhua who are also battling to become China’s first super club.

Marcello Lippi’s first match in charge comes this Sunday against bottom of the table Qingdao Jonoon and the pressure will be on the Italian to keep up the club’s early season momentum. However, having won all of the game’s biggest prizes at club and international level, expectation is something that the 64 year old should be able to cope with.

Japan: Tokyo to savour Emperor’s Cup triumph (video)

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on January 4, 2012

First of all I should start this piece by wishing everybody a happy new year! I’ve been enjoying myself over the Christmas holiday and have neglected the blog over the last few days so I need to rectify this, starting off with a piece regarding the new Emperor’s Cup winners in Japan.

FC Tokyo have done an unlikely league and cup double in Japan following their 4-2 triumph over Kyoto Sanga in last Sunday’s Emperor’s Cup final. FC Tokyo had already clinched the J-League second division, topping the table with an eight point advantage over nearest challengers Sagan Tosu, and then went on to win the first ever Emperor’s Cup final to be played by two teams outside of the top flight.

FC Tokyo were the obvious favourites going into the cup final but Kyoto Sanga struck first on 13 minutes thanks to Hiroki Nakayama only for the capital city club to equalize just three minutes later through Yasuyuki Konno. Tokyo then exerted their dominance on the game and went into the half-time break with a 3-1 lead courtesy of further strikes from Masato Morishige and Lucas Severino. Tokyo sealed the victory with Lucas again on the score sheet midway through the second half only for Kyoto, who finished in a respectable seventh position in the second division this term, to pull a goal back through Yuya Kubo.

The victory proved extra sweet for FC Tokyo as it was their maiden triumph in Japan’s premier knockout cup competition, having won the secondary tournament J-League Cup twice in 2004 and 2009. Not only that but FC Tokyo will get a chance to prove themselves on Asian football’s biggest stage next season as they will feature in the 2012 AFC Champions League in Group F alongside Ulsan Hyundai (South Korea), Brisbane Roar (Australia) and Beijing Guoan (China).

South Korea: Jeonbuk claim second K-League title over Ulsan (video)

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on December 4, 2011

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors logoJeonbuk Hyundai Motors are South Korean champions for the second time in three years following their play-off triumph over Ulsan Hyundai.

Jeonbuk were huge favourites going into this year’s final having finished top of the regular season standings whilst their opponents Ulsan had knocked out FC Seoul, Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Pohang Steelers en route to this year’s showpiece.

In the first leg of the final, which was played in Ulsan on Wednesday evening, Jeonbuk had Eninho to thank for giving the visitors a 2-1 win over their hosts and a useful lead going in to today’s crucial return fixture. With the first half of the second leg goalless Ulsan still had the capacity to cause one further shock in the play-offs and when Ki-Hyeon Seol scored ten minutes after the break an upset seemed on the cards. However any nerves which the home were suffering were extinguished just six minutes later when Eninho scored another vital goal, this time from the spot, to give the home side the aggregate lead once more. Luiz Henrique put the game beyond doubt with twenty minutes to play when he gave Jeonbuk a 2-1 second leg lead, and a 4-2 aggregate advantage, which Jeonbuk retained for the remainder of the game.

For Ulsan it was just one step too far but their team can be proud of their efforts this season which culminated in a League Cup win and winning a place in the 2012 AFC Champions League as a just reward for their play-off exploits. For Jeonbuk the triumph of a second K-League title in three years now brings greater challenges; retaining the national title is of great importance but the dream of winning a second AFC Champions League title will be uppermost in the minds of everyone at the club next season.


FIFA: Club World Cup Team Guide – Al Sadd

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on December 3, 2011

Al Sadd logoAFC Champions League title holders Al-Sadd were the surprise winners of Asia’s premier club competition and will feature in their first FIFA Club World Cup. Al Sadd, who hail from the Qatari capital city of Doha, have a quarter-final meeting with African champions Espérance and, should they emerge victorious, will look forward to a semi-final encounter against FC Barcelona.

Their Asian Champions League campaign began with two play-off rounds to negotiate before reaching the group phase. Syrians Al-Ittihad (5-1) and Indian side Dempo FC (2-0) were put to the sword, allowing Al-Sadd to compete in a tough group containing Al-Nassr (Saudi Arabia), Esteghlal (Iran) and Pakhtakor (Uzbekistan). The Qataris finished top of the group with ten points from six games and thus proceeded to a Round of 16 tie against Al-Shabab (Saudi Arabia) which they scraped through, winning by a solitary goal to nil. Al-Sadd were then given a helping hand in the quarter-finals following Iranian side Sepahan’s oversight in fielding an ineligible player in the first leg which the AFC awarded to Al-Sadd 3-0 before Sepahan gained back some respect in the second leg with a 2-1 score line but the damage had already been done. A fiery semi-final with South Korean side Suwon Bluewings went Al-Sadd’s way with a 2-1 aggregate victory before they met another side from the K-League, the dominant league in Asian football in recent years, in the form of Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Al-Sadd looked like they were going to win the final in normal time but a late stoppage time goal from Seung-Hyun Lee took the match into extra-time which saw no further scoring. The game was, therefore, decided on penalties with Nadir Belhadj scoring the vital fifth spot kick for Al-Sadd who won 4-2 and claimed a first success in this competition since 1989.

Since Al-Sadd’s glorious triumph they have played four matches in the domestic championship, known as the Qatari Stars League, and have suffered a mixed bag of results. Wins against Al Ahli and Lekhwiya were tempered by defeats against Qatar Sports Club and Al Rayyan. With the club lying in fifth place in the 12 team league, five points behind league leaders Lekhwiya, things are far from terrible for the Qataris but they really must put up a good performance against Espérance if they are to get to the last four of the FIFA Club World Cup.


AFC: South Korean clubs winless as Champions League resumes

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on September 14, 2011

AFC Champions LeagueThe 2011 AFC Asian Champions League has reached the quarter-final stages with the first legs taking place today. As has been the case in recent years South Korean clubs feature prominently in the last eight of the competition with FC Seoul, Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors involved this time. There are also two clubs from Iran (Zob Ahan and Sepahan FC) and one each from Saudi Arabia (Al-Ittihad), Japan (Cerezo Osaka) and Qatar (Al-Sadd) making up this year’s octet of hopefuls.

Sole Japanese representatives Cerezo Osaka were involved in a topsy turvy fixture at home to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the game of the day. Lee Dong-Gook scored a brace either side of Ryuji Bando’s 28th minute goal for Cerezo to put the Koreans 2-1 up at half-time. There was no let-up in the action after the break with Cho Sung-Hwan (Jeonbuk) and Hiroshi Kiyotake (Cerezo) trading goals to make it 3-2 to the visitors just before the hour mark. The Japanese side turned the game around in the last third of the game with a penalty from Kim Bo-Kyung and Kiyotake’s second goal sealing a hard fought 4-3 win for Osaka.

Suwon Samsung Bluewings, back-to-back champions in this competition in 2001-02, were unable to make home advantage count in their opening leg against last season’s defeated finalists Zob Ahan. The Iranians took the lead after 56 minutes through Mohammed Ghazi but the Bluewings equalized ten minutes later thanks to Park Hyun-Boem and with the score line ending up 1-1 it sets up an interesting return leg in the Iranian city of Isfahan in two weeks time.

FC Seoul, last season’s K-League champions, have yet to win the Asian Champions League and following their first leg tie away at Al-Ittihad it may prove difficult for them to win a maiden title. The Saudi Arabian side, who are two-time Asian champions, took the lead on the stroke of half-time with Mohammed Noor putting The Tigers ahead. The Jeddah-based side saw Osama Al Harbi double their lead on 76 minutes only for Seoul’s Kim to pull one back with seven minutes to play. The first leg was settled in stoppage time with Brazilian player Wendel settling matters by helping Al-Ittihad to a third goal and give his side what could be a crucial two goal cushion in the return leg.

Finally, in the only game of the round not involving a South Korean club, there was just one goal to separate Sepahan FC and Al Sadd with Omid Ebrahimi’s 12th minute goal deciding the game in the Iranians’ favour. The victory was dampened somewhat by the sending off of Akbar Imani just before the hour mark having picked up his second yellow card of the match.

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AFC: South Koreans dominate last eight field in Champions League (+video)

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on May 25, 2011

AFC Champions League trophyThe Round of 16 in the 2011 AFC Champions League was completed over the last two days.

South Korea remains the strongest nation in the competition with three clubs representing the K-League in the quarter-final stages. K-League title holders FC Seoul defeated record Japanese champions Kashima Antlers by three goals to nil with goals from Hwan, Dejan Damjanović and Ko sealing their passage through to the last eight. Suwon Samsung Bluewings also got the better of Japanese opposition having put two goals without reply past defending J-League champions Nagoya Grampus Eight thanks to strikes from Yeom Ki-Hun and Lee Sang-Ho. The third K-League team to progress was Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors whose 3-0 win over Tianjin Teda means that China has no further representation in this year’s competition. A brace from Eninho and a further strike from Lee Seung-Hyun did the damage for Jeonbuk who hope to win a second Asian title in five years. In the all-Japanese affair there was a local derby in the city of Osaka with Cerezo FC getting the better of rivals Gamba FC  with a lone strike from Daisuke Takahashi in the 88th minute giving Cerezo FC the bragging rights.


Sepahan FC, recently crowned Iran Pro League champions, and Zob Ahan will represent their country in the last eight having got the better of Bunyodkor and Al-Nassr respectively. Bunyodkor, Uzbekistan champions for the last three years, have high ambitions in this tournament but they failed once again following a 3-1 defeat in the Iranian city of Isfahan. Januário, Ibrahima Touré and Hadi Aghili scored the goals for Sepahan with Slavoljub Đorđević grabbing a consolation for the visitors. Zob Ahan got the better of Saudi Arabian side Al-Nassr with Igor Castro bagging a brace in his side’s 4-1 win. It proved to be a poor showing from Saudi clubs overall with Al-Shabab and Al-Hilal also going out but whereas the former went out to Al-Sadd, who are the only Qatari side remaining in the competition, Al-Hilal at least had the ‘pleasure’ of losing to compatriots Al-Ittihad.


The quarter-finals, the draw for which has yet to be made, are expected to be played over two legs in September.

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AFC: Champions and Cup review

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on May 12, 2011

AFC Champions League logoThe group stages in the two major Asian club competitions have concluded on Wednesday and there was plenty of tension in the air. The remaining places in the Round of 16 stages of each competition were up for grabs and ensured some dramatic action on Matchday 6.

In the AFC Champions League there was virtually nothing left to play for in the east of the continent as all of the qualifiers from Groups E-H were known before kick-off. It was a different tale in the west of the continent however with a number of places still available from Groups A-D. Iranian giants Esteghlal were arguably the biggest casualty despite winning their final Group B game 2-1 at home to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Sadd, the away side just scraping through the group with a better goal difference of two separating them from their hosts after six games. Group D proved to be just as dramatic with Emirates Sports Club, who still had a chance of second place, losing to wooden spoonists Al-Rayyan by 2-0 and allowing Saudi side Al-Shabab to claim the second spot after they defeated group winners Zob Ahan FC 1-0 thanks to a Fisal Bin Sultan goal in the 57th minute. The final Round of 16 place was decided in Group A following a head-to-head between Al-Hilal and Al-Gharafa with the former gaining victory over the latter by two goals to nil and ensuring that they come second in the group, level on points with Sepahan.


Sepahan (Iran) v Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan)

Al-Ittihad (Saudi Arabia) v Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

Al-Sadd (Qatar) v Al-Shabab (Saudi Arabia)

Zob Ahan (Iran) v Al-Nassr (Saudi Arabia)

Gamba Osaka (Japan) v Cerezo Osaka (Japan)

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (South Korea) v Tianjin Teda (China)

FC Seoul (South Korea) v Kashima Antlers (Japan)

Suwon Bluewings (South Korea) v Nagoya Grampus Eight (Japan)

One-leg matches to be played on May 24-25

AFC Cup logoThe AFC Cup, Asia’s equivalent of the Europa League or Sudamericana, saw defending champions Al-Ittihad (Iraq) suffer a shock exit in Group B. They had to defeat group winners Al-Qadsia (Kuwait) in order to claim the second spot but were defetaed 3-2 to end all hopes of progressing. Group C also saw some real drama with three teams – Dohuk FC, Al-Faisaly Club and Al-Jaish – all finish on eleven points and had to separated on head-to-head records. Despite having the overall superior goal difference Syrian side Al-Jaish were unfortunate to be eliminated as their records against the Iraqi and Jordanian qualifiers was inferior. Al-Kuwait, AFC Cup champions in 2009, scored a last minute penalty to defeat Al-Talaba 2-1 and secure second place by five points at the expense of their Iraqi opponents. Similarly, in Group F, Indonesian team Sriwijaya FC clinched second spot by a solitary point after leapfrogging challengers TSW Pegasus (Hong Kong) following their 3-2 win in Palembang. Group E saw Lebanese side Al-Ahed go through, also via a superior head-to-head record, following their 2-0 win over Al-Oruba. This, coupled with Arbil’s defeat of Al-Karamah, gave Lebanon’s sole representative the final place in the last 16.


Nasaf Qharsi (Uzbekistan) v Al-Faisaly (Jordan)

Duhok FC (Iraq) v Dempo FC (India)

Al-Qadsia (Kuwait) v Al-Kuwait (Kuwait)

Al-Wehdat (Jordan) v Shurtan Guzar (Uzbekistan)

Arbil SC (Iraq) v Tampines Rovers (Singapore)

Muangthong United (Thailand) v Al-Ahed (Lebanon)

Song Lam Nghe An (Vietnam) v Persipura Jayapura (Indonesia)

Chonburi FC (Thailand) v Sriwijaya (Indonesia)

One-leg matches to be played on May 24-25