AFC Champions League: Lee Man hopes to raid as instability and soaring temperatures hold Urawa Red Diamonds back

While the Urawa Red Diamonds are a club with the best AFC pedigree, Li Wen may meet the defending champions at the right time, as inconsistencies could derail the Japanese club’s domestic trophy challenge.

The Hong Kong Premier League side travel to Saitama after beating Bali United 5-1 last week and take on the three-time champions in Tuesday’s play-off knowing they will be in the running for one of Asia’s most successful clubs. disadvantage.

Still, recent inconsistent performances have left Urawa’s title ambitions in question.

“We didn’t perform as I expected this summer, maybe because it’s the first time I’ve worked in Japan in such a temperature and environment,” Urawa’s Poland coach Maciej Skoza said in a 1- 0 told the Washington Post after narrowly beating the Nagoya Grampus Eight. A sweltering Saitama Stadium on Friday.

The Urawa Reds’ win against Nagoya was their first in five games.Photo: AFP

“I made some changes to the training session and I don’t think the reaction from the team was as I expected.

“Generally, I like to stay longer in training, working on the tactical part, but in this temperature it’s not a good idea. I think that’s one of the reasons we don’t look good physically.”

After a strong start to the domestic league, Urawa’s form faltered in the hot weather and the win over Nagoya was the club’s first in five games.

As a result, they were knocked out of Japan’s top knockout tournament, the Emperor’s Cup, and sit fourth in the J-League standings, nine points behind leaders Yokohama Mariners in 24 rounds of 34 matches.

Although their hopes of claiming the J-League title for the first time since their lone victory in 2006 are fading, their form is still an improvement on last year’s campaign.

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Lee Wen fans will hope that Hong Kong can give the team an impact on Tuesday.Photo: Chen Xiaomei

Urawa then finished ninth, well behind champions Marinos, prompting head coach Ricardo Rodriguez to resign at the end of the season.

The Spaniard was replaced by former coach of Wisla Krakow and Poznan Lech in January, and the Pole has improved significantly this season.

Despite being the defending champion, Urawa failed to enter the top three of the J-League last season and failed to win the Emperor’s Cup, which meant that the club had to play a play-off with Li Wan.

“It was important to win this game against Nagoya before the game against Lee Man,” said Urawa’s Danish defender Alexander Scholz. “I want the team to be fully focused on this game because it’s a game we can’t afford to lose.

“I really want to play in the Champions League again because last time we had a good experience, it’s fun for me to play against teams from all over Asia and it’s part of the identity of this club. We have to win.”

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