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Football: Urawa to face Saudi heavyweights Al-Hilal in ACL final

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J-League first-division side Urawa Reds will contest the two-leg Asian Champions League final against current holders Al-Hilal of Saudi Arabia, who advanced from the tournament’s West Region with a 7-0 dismantling of Qatar’s Al-Duhail on Sunday.

The first leg of the final will be played on April 29 at Riyadh’s King Fahd International Stadium, with the return leg scheduled for May 6 at Saitama Stadium.

Urawa Reds goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa (far R) and teammates acknowledge the crowd after beating Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in an Asian Champions League semifinal at Saitama Stadium on Aug. 25, 2022. (Kyodo)

Former Watford and Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo bagged four goals for four-time Asian champions Al-Hilal in the West Region semifinal at Qatar’s Al Thumama Stadium.

The upcoming final will be a rematch of 2019, when Al-Hilal claimed the title with a 3-0 aggregate win against Reds.

Urawa, ACL winners in 2007 and 2017, advanced from the East Region with a penalty shootout victory over South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in their semifinal last August.

Al-Hilal’s semifinal win has ensured Urawa a place at December’s Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia. With the host nation already guaranteed a berth, the Asian champions’ slot will be designated to the ACL runners-up in the case of a Saudi Arabian club winning the title.

 

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