Football fans across Asia have an exciting night in store, as the AFC Champions League quarter-final second legs take place on Wednesday. With all ties still in the balance, the games should be pleasingly competitive. FIFA.com takes a look at what is in store.
AFC Champions League quarter-finals, second legs:
Wednesday 24 September
Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan) - Saipa (Iran)
Adelaide United (Australia) - Kashima Antlers (Japan)
Urawa Red Diamonds (Japan) - Al Qadsia (Kuwait)
Gamba Osaka (Japan) - Al Karama (Syria)
The big match
Most eyes will be on Bunyodkor (previously known as Kuruvchi) when they play host to Iran's Saipa in Tashkent in the return match on Wednesday. The little-known club, who only made their debut in the Uzbek Oliy League last season, have been making headlines both at home and beyond at a rate unheard of in Asian football. In the build-up to the Champions League knockout stage, they surprisingly imported Brazilian star Rivaldo. And just a couple of days prior to this decisive encounter, coach Mirdjalal Kasimov left the club for the national team post, with former Brazilian star Zico reportedly set to fill the coaching vacancy.
And Bunyodkor have truly developed into one of the most competitive sides in the competition. "Bunyodkor are especially strong in midfield and attack," said Saipa coach Pierre Littbarski, who will be able to draw on plenty of inside knowledge should his team reach the semi-final: Littbarski has previously coached in both Japan and Australia.
The other games
Adelaide United-Kashima Antlers
Adelaide enter the second leg at home needing just a goalless draw to go through, having held Kashima Antlers 1-1 in the first leg. Adelaide coach Aurelio Vidmar has clearly decided to make the continental competition a priority, and he rested many first-team players for the weekend's A-League clash with Sydney FC, resulting in a 3-0 defeat. Vidmar's opposite number Oswaldo Oliveira will have to do without Mitsuo Ogasawara, after the midfield dynamo was seriously injured in their latest J-League encounter against Kashiwa Reysol.
Urawa Reds-Al Qadsia
A first-half goal by Japanese international Naohiro Takahara in their 1-0 win against Omiya Ardija on Sunday not only put Urawa Reds in second place behind J-League leaders Nagoya Grampus, but also provided a timely boost for the team ahead of their return clash against Kuwaitis Al Qadsia. After losing the first leg 3-2 away, the pressure is on Reds coach Gert Engels and his side. Al Qadsia are likely to play for the draw that would send them through in Saitama.
Gamba Osaka-Al Karama
Although the 2-1 loss to Gamba Osaka was only their second home defeat in the Champions League, Al Karama looked particularly vulnerable against the well-organized and disciplined opposition. The Syrian visitors are expected to have a hard time in Osaka in Wednesday's game, where they will have to win by at least two clear goals.
Player to watch
Kashima Antlers were deadly in front of goal in the group stage, scoring 28 times in six group games, with Brazilians Marquinhos and Danilo each claiming five goals to share second spot on the tournament scoring chart. The latter, in particular, has gained a reputation for scoring crucial goals, including an all-important one against Beijing Guoan. Should he find his erstwhile form at Hindmarsh Stadium, the Brazilian import will surely cause Adelaide plenty of headaches.
What they said
"We can't just rely on a 0-0 scoreline to get us through, because anything can happen in football. If you are going to rely on that, and they score in the last minute, it would be disastrous for us. So we will play to win and try to score," Adelaide United goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic