AFC Champions League Preview: Al Shabab v Kashiwa Reysol
By Football News
Al Shabab take a valuable away goal into their AFC Champions League semi-final second leg encounter with Kashiwa Reysol on Wednesday.
Masata Kudo's first-leg strike at the Kashiwa Hitachi Stadium could prove vital, even though it was cancelled out by Fernando before the break.
Since that match on August 21, the Saudi Arabian outfit have started their Pro League campaign with a loss and two victories.
They were beaten 4-1 at home to Al Ittihad in their opening match but bounced back with 1-0 and 5-2 successes over Al Shoalah and Al Raed respectively.
Michel Preud'homme's side will take confidence from the fact that they have kept three clean sheets in their last four home games in the competition, and one more will see them through to the last four.
Naif Hazazi is the man they will look to spearhead their attacking threat, with the striker notching twice already in the league.
Kashiwa Reysol have had a disappointing campaign in the J.League but will regard the Champions League as an opportunity to redeem their season.
They come into the game on the back of two consecutive league defeats, although those losses sandwiched wins over Tsukuba University and Yokohama F. Marinos in the Emperor Cup and J.League Cup respectively.
Kudo has been one rare bright spark for Reysol, having notched an impressive 15 league goals.
Nelsinho Baptista's team sit in a disappointing 12th position after 25 games, eight points adrift of a Champions League spot.