Kobe: Daigo Nishi has admitted that it’s an honour to play alongside Spain’s FIFA World Cup winner Andres Iniesta as Vissel Kobe put together to renew their 2020 AFC Champions League marketing campaign in Qatar later this month.
Vissel generated world headlines in 2018 once they lured the Barcelona legend and four-time UEFA Champions League winner to the J1 League, earlier than they acquired Nishi from home rivals Kashima Antlers forward of the 2019 season.
A 12 months later and the pair each starred as Vissel defeated Kashima 2-0 to win their first main piece of silverware and safe a spot within the AFC Champions League for the primary time of their historical past.
“There isn’t a lot I can say about Andres Iniesta that hasn’t already been stated, all I can say is that it’s an honour to play in the identical group as him,” Nishi informed the-AFC.com.
“After all his high quality actually helps our group however it’ll even be attention-grabbing [in Qatar] to see how different groups react to his presence.”
The Japanese facet made an ideal begin to their maiden Continental marketing campaign earlier within the 12 months, posting a 5-1 win at residence to Johor Darul Ta’zim and claiming a late 1-0 victory at Suwon Samsung Bluewings with Iniesta’s world-class potential on show from the off, though the consequence in opposition to JDT has since been deemed null and void after the Malaysian facet’s withdrawal.
Nevertheless, since soccer resumed in Japan following the COVID-19 enforced postponement, the facet’s home kind has been inconsistent at greatest as they at the moment languish within the backside half of the J1 League desk.
Head coach Torsten Fink departed in September and has since been changed by Atsuhiro Miura, who will hope the resumption of AFC Champions League motion may also help spark a return to type of a group that began the 12 months so promisingly however have light because it has gone on.
“We aren’t doing very nicely as a group for the time being however, having stated that, I see potential in a event like this that can be performed over a brief time period,” admitted the 33-year-old.
“It’s onerous to say whether or not we will decide up the place we left off [in the AFC Champions League] however the first match can be crucial to assist us construct our confidence after which we will take it from there.
“I believe we’re nonetheless a good distance from the place we have to be; nonetheless, if we will get some momentum on our facet then there’s a sturdy probability we will advance.
“It’s going to be an attention-grabbing state of affairs in Qatar as all of the groups are in the identical boat. As a group we don’t have a lot expertise enjoying abroad however I’m very a lot wanting ahead to it.”
Whereas Vissel could not be capable of level to a lot expertise abroad, their common first-choice right-back boasts loads from his eight years with Kashima and, certainly, Iniesta just isn’t the one participant inside their ranks who can declare to be a Continental champion.
Arguably Nishi’s most memorable second with Kashima got here in 2018 when he was a part of a backline that stored a clear sheet in entrance of 100,000 spectators at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium to safe a 0-0 draw in opposition to Persepolis within the second leg of the ultimate because the Ibaraki membership claimed a 2-0 combination victory to win the AFC Champions League.
It was a win that capped a superb marketing campaign for the Sapporo native, who had additionally weighed in with essential objectives within the Spherical of 16 and semi-finals en path to a match-up with the Iranians.
And may Vissel repeat the feat of Nishi’s former facet by advancing all the way in which to the ultimate on December 19, Persepolis would await as soon as extra after they progressed from the West Asia part of the draw.
“I really feel lucky to have the chance to play on this competitors once more after altering golf equipment,” added Nishi.
“It’s an identical state of affairs to 2018 however in an effort to attain the ultimate we’ve got to enhance, though if we get there I’m positive it might be an awesome recreation and, in fact, I already know the way nice a group Persepolis are. However our focus must be on the primary match and from there we take it recreation by recreation.”
Vissel will resume their AFC Champions League marketing campaign on November 25 in opposition to Guangzhou Evergrande, who they are going to meet once more three days later earlier than the return assembly with Suwon on December 4.
Images: Vissel Kobe, J.League