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Al Ain’s Crespo vows ‘hell’ for Yokohama in ACL final

Al Ain's Crespo vows 'hell' for Yokohama in ACL final

Al Ain’s head coach Hernan Crespo (Yuichi YAMAZAKI)

Al Ain coach Hernan Crespo warned Harry Kewell's Yokohama F-Marinos to expect "hell" as the hosts bid to come from behind in the Asian Champions League final second leg on Saturday.

The ex-Argentina international urged his team, 2-1 down from the first leg, and Al Ain's fans to give the Japanese side a torrid evening in the sultry United Arab Emirates desert city.

Two weeks ago in Yokohama, Al Ain led deep into the second half before the home side turned it around with two goals in 12 minutes.

"We need to play 100 percent because the opponent is a great opponent, and we need our fans," said Crespo, 48, at Al Ain's Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

"We need… this final to become a hell this day. We need to be hot. And our idea is to try to fight to achieve this glorious moment."

Kewell, whose Liverpool side famously beat Crespo's AC Milan on penalties after trailing 3-0 in the 2005 European Champions League final, said Yokohama would not be cowed by a hostile atmosphere.

"I think he's calling for help, which is fair enough. You call on your supporters to try to make you intimidating," said the former Australia international.

"But we're used to going to places where a lot of people don't like us, just (because of) the way we play football.

"So we're going to be prepared for that. We're not worried about it. In fact, the louder and more intimidating they are probably the better it is going to be for us."

Al Ain, the oil-rich UAE's most successful club, are playing in the final for the fourth time, having won it in 2003 and reached the decider in 2005 and 2016.

They ousted two lavishly funded Saudi sides in the final stages, beating Cristiano Ronaldo's Al Nassr in the quarters before ending Al Hilal's record streak of 34 consecutive wins in the last four.

Meanwhile Yokohama are attempting to become the fourth Japanese side to become Asian champions after three-time winners Urawa Red Diamonds, Gamba Osaka and Kashima Antlers.

Crespo bristled at a mention of the 2005 European final, listing other achievements of his trophy-laden career including winning the UEFA Cup and Copa Libertadores.

"Now I'm very proud to be here and to reach the final of the Champions League. What will happen I don't know, but I know very well what it means to be competitive," he added.

"Sometimes it's not enough, but we are competitive 100 percent. Then I don't think about (other finals). I think about respecting the competition."

th/ea

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