Preview – Group J: Cerezo Osaka and Kitchee SC ready for AFC Champions League clash | Football | New
Buriram: Cerezo Osaka coach Levir Culpi backed set-piece specialist Motohiko Nakajima to make a major impact on the 2021 AFC Champions League as the J-League prepare to face Kitchee in the J group on Sunday.
Osaka won their opener 2-0 against Guangzhou FC on Thursday and sit first in the table with Kitchee and the Brazilian manager expects great things from 22-year-old Nakajima when he takes on the Hong Kong club.
“In my entire football career, I have never seen a player like Motohiko, someone who can shoot free kicks perfectly with his left and right foot,” said the veteran Brazil, currently in his fourth stint. as head coach of Cerezo.
“I don’t think any of you have seen a player like this too, so I can’t wait to see him tomorrow. I’m surprised. Left foot, right foot, same. Perfect.”
Nakajima played for the last 23 minutes off the bench in the win over Guangzhou, but is set to start against Kitchee, and he hopes an impressive performance in the AFC Champions League can be a bridge to continue his career elsewhere.
“I was talking with the head coach about how, if I play really well here and create a lot of goals, maybe I can go abroad and play there,” said Nakajima. “So I want to do my best and create as many goals as possible.”
Cerezo will face a side from Kitchee who also won their opener – sealing a 2-0 victory against Port FC – but Culpi has no plans to change his approach as he strives for back-to-back wins.
“There is nothing special that we do in our on-the-minute training,” he said. “But in football I think there are only two things: attack and defense. So no matter what kind of team we play or what kind of training they have, we’re just going to play our football, keep it simple and attack with everyone and defend with everyone.
“Physically we have no problem with our players, maybe a few minor injuries, but overall we are doing well. Normally in the J-League I don’t make too many changes to our starting XI, but as the AFC Champions League is on a very tight schedule, I will wait until the last minute before picking our team for tomorrow.
Kitchee is slightly concerned about the fitness of Hong Kong international striker Alex Akande, who suffers from a back injury, and coach Alex Chu Chi-kwong knows his team face a daunting challenge against the talented Culpi team.
“I think the Osaka team have more experience playing in the AFC Champions League, more than us,” he said. “They have a very good team in the J-League, they have good players in their squad.
“I think they won’t be easy to face. Osaka’s wingers are very fast. They make a lot of combinations and that’s why it’s going to be a tough game.
“I think we’ll try to keep a good defense organized. I understand that the level of Japanese football is much better than in our league. It’s another level. “
Cerezo Osaka (JPN) vs. Kitchee SC (HKG)
Location: Buriram Stadium, Buriram
Kick-off: 9:00 p.m. (UTC + 7)
Who will win?
Cerezo Osaka (JPN)
Kitchee SC (HKG)
* The survey ends at 6:00 p.m. (UTC + 8) on June 27.