Kewell tells Yokohama to summon spirit of Istanbul to reach final

Harry Kewell won the 2005 Champions League with <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Liverpool;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Liverpool</a> and now coaches Japanese side Yokohama F-Marinos (Anthony WALLACE)

Harry Kewell says his Yokohama F-Marinos side can emulate his 2005 Istanbul  success with Liverpool and "do something magical" in Wednesday's Asian Champions League semi-final second leg.

Kewell won European club football's biggest prize almost 20 years ago as Liverpool roared back from three goals down to beat AC Milan on penalties, although the Australian lasted just 23 minutes before going off injured in the final.

The former Leeds and Liverpool winger took over as Yokohama coach at the start of this year and has taken the Japanese club to their first Asian Champions League semi-final.

They lost the first leg to Ulsan Hyundai 1-0 in South Korea but Kewell believes his team can channel the same spirit that saw Liverpool upset the odds in Istanbul.

"I was part of a special team that night that was able to come back from a scenario where a lot of people thought it was dead and buried," he said on Tuesday.

"It just goes to show that a game is never finished, especially when you've got a hunger and a desire in a team.

"And I see that hunger and desire in this team to go out there and do something magical."

Kewell is one of Australia's greatest players but he has never reached the same heights as a manager in lower-league English football.

He was sacked by fifth-tier Barnet in 2021 after failing to win in his first seven matches as manager.

- Youth movement -

Kewell has made a solid start in Japan and is taking inspiration from former Liverpool team-mate Xabi Alonso, who has clinched the Bundesliga title with Bayer Leverkusen.

"He's gone out there and taken a team to be virtually unstoppable, not only in the Bundesliga but also in Europe as well at this present time," said Kewell.

"I think it's fantastic to see young coaches now coming in with a different mindset, a different attitude and a different way of playing."

Kewell was preceded at Yokohama by fellow Australians Kevin Muscat and Ange Postecoglou.

Postecoglou left to join Celtic and hired Kewell as a coach, before moving on to Tottenham in the Premier League.

Kewell said he has been trying to put his own stamp on Yokohama rather than asking Spurs boss Postecoglou for advice.

"We're both very busy concentrating on our own teams," he said.

"I did speak to him briefly at the start to get a bit of information but generally wherever I go, I make my own mind up on what I see and how I approach things."

Ulsan qualified for next year's expanded 32-team Club World Cup in the United States by beating Yokohama in the first leg.

They are aiming to win the Champions League for a third time.

"We won the first leg but we have to forget about the result," said coach Hong Myung-bo.

"We will try to play with stability but this is an away game and there will difficult times."

The winner of the tie will face Al-Ain of the United Arab Emirates or Saudi side Al-Hilal in a two-legged final.

They play later Tuesday in the other semi-final in Riyadh with Al-Ain leading 4-2 from the first leg.