Japan AFC Champions League

Oiwa praises aggressive Antlers after Suwon win

Kashima Antlers manager Go Oiwa touted his players’ aggressiveness following their 2-1 win at Suwon Bluewings on Wednesday night in the second round of the 2018 AFC Champions League group stage.

Both Antlers goals came courtesy of Samurai Blue midfielder Mu Kanazaki, who beat goalkeeper No Dong-Geon to score the eighth-minute opener before doubling the visitors’ lead with a 59th-minute header.

A late Cristovam goal gave hope to most of the 4,870 fans in attendance at Suwon World Cup Stadium but in the end it was not enough to prevent last year’s J1 League runners-up from taking full points.

“It was a very intense match but I’m proud of the players for playing aggressively and getting this result,” Antlers manager Go Oiwa told the post-match press conference. “Everyone was aggressive on both sides of the ball.”

Asked about the the decision to start former longtime K-League player Kwoun Sun-tae in goal, the second-year coach insisted that there was no gamesmanship at work.

“Every position is being contested, not just goalkeeper,” Oiwa said. “Both Kwoun and (Hitoshi) Sogohata are competing at a very high level, but today I put my faith in Kwoun.”

The result saw Antlers rise to the top of Group H with four points, followed by Suwon with three, Shanghai Shenhua with two, and Sydney FC with one.