Get to know a little more about Victory’s third opponent in the 2018 AFC Champions League, Japanese Champions Kawasaki Frontale.
Victory travels to Japan to take on Kawasaki Frontale on Wednesday, March 7, kick-off is at 9:00pm AEDT.
How did they qualify?
Kawasaki Frontale qualified for the Asian Champions League by winning their first ever J1 League title in 2017. Interestingly, the only time they topped the table was after the last round of the season, pipping Kashima Antlers to the title.
What is their history in the Champions League?
2018 will be Kawasaki’s sixth Asian Champions League campaign and the first time they have qualified for consecutive tournaments following a Quarter-finals appearance in 2017.
Kawasaki was drawn in the same group as Melbourne Victory back in 2010. In the first clash in Japan, just three days after the 2010 Grand Final, Kawasaki defeated Victory 4-0.
Victory, however, turned the tables back in Melbourne, defeating Kawasaki 1-0 thanks to a Kevin Muscat penalty.
What are their results so far?
Match Day 1: Kawasaki Frontale 0-1 Shanghai SIPG
Match Day 2: Ulsan Hyundai 2-1 Kawasaki Frontale
Match Day 3: Kawasaki Frontale 2-2 Melbourne Victory
Who are their key players?
Striker Yu Kobayashi topped the J1 League goal scoring charts last season with 23 goals, a big factor behind Kawasaki’s run to the title. The 30-year-old has made over 250 appearances for the club since his debut back in 2010.
Veteran midfielder Kengo Nakamura is another one to watch. The 37-year-old lead the J1 League for assists in 2017 with 12, two ahead of Cristiano from Kawisha Reysol and Yusuke Maruhashi from Cerezo Osaka.
He has made over 500 appearances for the club after making his debut in 2003 when Kawasaki was in the second division. Nakamura also has 68 caps for the Japan National Team.
Prolific goal scorer Yoshito Okubo, in his second stint at the club, is another outlet for Kawasaki going forward. The 35-year-old lead the J1 League for goals in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Okubo has experience in the Bundesliga and La Liga, as well as 60 caps for the Japan National Team.