Beijing, Kawasaki clash for final qualifying spot in AFC Champions League east zone

08:43, April 28, 2010      

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Chinese Super League champions Beijing Guoan host Japan's Kawasaki Frontale on Wednesday in a head-on battle for the east zone's eighth and final spot in the AFC Champions League's one-leg round of 16.

In the west, Saudi giants Al Ittihad and Uzbek champions Bunyodkor are both bidding to take the remaining qualifying spot in Group B as they visit group leaders Zobahan in Iran and host UAE's Al Wahda respectively on matchday six.

Beijing, second in Group E, are aiming to become the first Chinese club to qualify for the knockout stage since 2008. All four South Korean clubs, Japanese giants Kashima Antlers and Gamba Osaka, and Australia's Adelaide United have already qualified in the east.

The 61,000-capacity Workers' Stadium is expected to offer a cauldron of support for Guoan, who secured their first league title in December and are looking to secure second spot behind Seongnam Ilhwa, who have 12 points and host bottom-placed Melbourne Victory.

Beijing drew 0-0 in Melbourne on matchday five to move to seven points, one ahead of Kawasaki, so a draw would be enough for the hosts to advance. Guoan, currently third in this year's Chinese Super League, will be missing Croatian central midfielder Darko Matic through suspension.

Kawasaki, quarterfinalists in 2007 and 2009, have six points after beating Seongnam 3-0 with goals from midfielders Hiroyuki Taniguchi and Yusuke Tasaka, and Brazilian forward Renatinho, the club's all-time top scorer.

Veteran center-back Shuhei Terada was booked and is suspended for the Beijing clash, while DPR Korea striker Jong Tae-se is still out following his red card against Melbourne on matchday three.

However, captain Kengo Nakamura could play his first AFC Champions League game since suffering a broken jaw in the matchday one loss to Seongnam on February 23.

Last Saturday, the Japan midfielder started his first J-League game of the year and helped his side beat Vissel Kobe 3-0 and move to fourth place, just two points off the pace.


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(Editor:intern1)

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