The upcoming ACL final between Al Hilal SFC and Urawa Red Diamonds promises to be an epic encounter.
Nigerian forward Odion Ighalo will play a pivotal role in Al Hilal’s bid to defend their title and guide the Saudi Arabians to their third Asian Champions League triumph.
Al Hilal will host the first leg of the final at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, where they won all their three home games in the knockout stages.
With the support of the home fans and a well-drilled team, Al Hilal will look to gain an advantage before heading to Urawa’s turf for the second leg on May 6.
Ighalo, who has seven goals to his name so far in the competition, will be a crucial player for Al Hilal.
In guiding his team to victory, Ighalo will aim to overtake Al Duhail’s Edmilson Junior (eight goals) as the top scorer in the competition. He will relish the opportunity to make his mark on the grandest stage in Asian club football.
With his strength, speed, and clinical finishing, Ighalo will be a constant threat to the Urawa defence.
Al Hilal’s attacking options are not limited to Ighalo, however. Argentine attacker Luciano Vietto and Saudi midfielder Salem Al Dawsari will pull the strings in midfield, creating chances for the forwards. The defence, led by Japanese center-back Jang Hyun-soo, has also been solid throughout the campaign.
Urawa, on the other hand, will seek to make amends for their defeat to Al Hilal in the 2019 final. The Japanese outfit has been in scintillating form in front of goal, scoring a tournament-high 31 goals so far.
However, the departure of key players such as Yusuke Matsuo and Kasper Junker could be a blow to their chances.
Polish tactician Maciej Skorza, who replaced Ricardo Rodriguez at the start of the campaign, will be hoping to guide Urawa to their third ACL title.
Skorza will be relying on the likes of David Moberg Karlsson, Jose Kante, and Bryan Linssen to provide the firepower up front.
The defence, led by experienced full-back Hiroki Sakai, has been solid so far, conceding just four goals in the competition.
Overall, this promises to be an enthralling encounter between two of Asia’s footballing powerhouses.
Al Hilal will be looking to continue their dominance in the competition and defend their title, while Urawa will hope to upset the odds and claim their third ACL crown.
With Odion Ighalo in their ranks, Al Hilal will be confident of getting the job done in the first leg and setting themselves up for a successful title defence.