Kewell seeks managerial redemption in AFC Champions League final

Harry Kewell a luat <o clasă="legătură " href="" date-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Japan;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0"Yokohama F-Marinos din >Japan</a> in the final of the Asian Champions League (Anthony WALLACE)” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTYzOQ–/ /″ data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTYzOQ–/ en/″/></div>
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Harry Kewell took Japan’s Yokohama F-Marinos to the final of the Asian Champions League (Anthony WALLACE)

Harry Kewell’s coaching career has yet to match the heights he reached as a player, but he can take a big step forward in this week’s AFC Champions League final.

Kewell’s Yokohama F-Marinos take on Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates in Saturday’s first leg, just four months after the former Leeds and Liverpool striker took charge at the Japanese club.

Kewell struggled in English lower league football with Crawley Town, Notts County and Oldham and was sacked by fifth-placed Barnet in 2021 after failing to win in his first seven games.

The Australian now has a chance to save his manager as he prepares for a battle of wits against another English Premier League favorite — Al Ain’s coach is former Chelsea and Argentina forward Hernan Crespo.

“It’s a learning process,” Kewell, 45, said after Yokohama’s semi-final victory over South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai took them into the Asian Club Championship final for the first time.

– Australian heritage –

“Every club I’ve been to, every player I’ve worked with has been excellent, wanting to learn more about the game, wanting to work harder.

“It’s something for me to be able to get out there and learn as well.”

Kewell hopes to build on the legacy left in Yokohama by fellow Australians Ange Postecoglou and Kevin Muscat.

Postecoglou won the J-League in 2019 before joining Celtic and then moving to Tottenham in the Premier League.

Muscat has groomed Kewell for success, guiding Yokohama to the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League before leaving to join Chinese side Shanghai Port in December.

Kewell’s previous job was as first-team coach under Postecoglou at Celtic and he said he “doesn’t take full credit” for Yokohama’s run to the finals.

“They’ve had two other wonderful managers who have done wonderful things,” Kewell said.

“I came into the club and even on the first day I said I had a very solid base.

“He just needed something different.”

– Lower League Limbo –

Kewell was one of the brightest lights in Leeds’ effervescent youth team in the late 1990s before making a controversial move to Liverpool in 2003.

He won the UEFA Champions League in 2005 with the Anfield club and has also shone on the international stage, winning 58 caps for Australia and appearing in two World Cups.

He made his first start in management in 2017 at Crawley, becoming the first Australian to manage an English professional club.

He lasted just over a year in League Two and that remains the club’s longest spell in charge.

He was sacked after 11 league games at Notts County and seven months at Oldham and was shown the door even earlier during a disastrous spell at Barnet.

Kewell has a great chance to set the record straight with Yokohama. The club are 11th in the J-League after 11 games but have a game in hand that could lift them six points clear of the top flight.

He said his side were “pushed to the limit” in the Champions League knockout stage, where they had players sent off in three matches and needed penalties to get past Ulsan in the semi-finals.

Kewell played under esteemed managers such as Rafael Benitez at Liverpool and Guus Hiddink with Australia and said he tried to emulate their careful approach as a coach.

“Sometimes you just have to sit back, not let your emotions get in the way, think about the situation,” he said.

“Then you can think clearly and make the right decision for the team.”


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