Question mark over Kobe’s Osako ahead of Jeonbuk quarter-final

Japan international striker Yuya Osako is a doubt for Vissel Kobe’s Asian Champions League quarter-final with South Koreans Jeonbuk Motors on Monday, as the J1 League side seek to reach the semi-finals for the second time in three seasons.

Osako featured in the first hour of Kobe’s surprise 3-2 win over J1 League leaders Yokohama F Marinos in the Round of 16 at Saitama Stadium on Thursday, but the involvement of the former Werder Bremen striker , 32, is doubtful due to injury.

Kobe’s Spanish World Cup winner Andres Iniesta, meanwhile, is unlikely to start after the 38-year-old failed to feature on the bench against Marinos.

“They both have leg injuries and due to the tight schedule we cannot comment on them at this time,” Kobe coach Takayuki Yoshida said.

“Iniesta has been able to train for the past few days, but he didn’t train today.”

Kobe is aiming to reach the semi-finals for the second time, two years after reaching the last four when the Continental Club Championship was held in Qatar at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They face a Jeonbuk side who battled to beat fellow Korean side Daegu FC in extra time in the previous round and are chasing the club’s first Asian title since 2016.

Another two-time winner, Urawa Red Diamonds, will also try to secure a place in the semi-finals when they take on BG Pathum United of Thailand.

This match sees Urawa coach Ricardo Rodriguez take on his former club after leading the Japanese side to a 5-0 victory over Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim in the previous round.

“We have to keep doing what we were doing in the last game because we were at a very high level,” Rodriguez said.

“From my experience in Thailand, I know they will want to fight against a Japanese team and show themselves. They won’t give us anything so we have to show what we are on the pitch, with good concentration. We can’t not relax at all.”

Matches involving clubs from the eastern half of the continent contest the knockout stages of this year’s Asian Champions League in Japan, with the quarter-finals on Monday and the semi-final on Thursday.

The West Asian teams will play their knockout matches in February, with the final being played home and away on February 19 and 26.

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