Harry Kewell’s pride after Yokohama F.Marinos’ historic Champions League night

Harry Kewell has guided Yokohama F.Marinos to the AFC Champions League semi-finals for the first time in their history.

F.Marinos reached the final four after Wednesday night’s 1-0 win over Shandong Taishan in Yokohama clinched a 3-1 aggregate triumph.

Former A-Leagues star Kewell is the new head coach of J1 League runners-up F.Marinos after Melbourne Victory great Kevin Muscat (now at Chinese champions Shanghai Port) stepped down at the end of the 2023 season in Japan, while Central Coast Mariners icon John Hutchinson is his assistant.

SOCCEROOS SQUAD: Adam Taggartโ€™s return headlines 3 Isuzu UTE A-League call-ups for World Cup qualifiers

Kewell had taken over an F.Marinos side already through to the Champions League last 16 thanks to Muscat and they will now meet two-time champions Ulsan Hyundai for a spot in May’s decider thanks to Anderson Lopes’ 75th-minute strike, despite a second-half red card to Katsuya Nagato.

“Very pleased to have progressed in this competition,” Kewell told reporters, with F.Marinos also boasting one win and one defeat from their first two matches in the J1 League.

“I know through personal experiences that this is a tough competition, whether it’s in Europe or Asia, it doesn’t matter.

“The Champions League is the Champions League and it’s very difficult to progress at these final stages. So you have to be at your very best.

“I felt we were at our best at times in the game, especially the opening part of the game which we dominated. We had a couple of chances to put the game to bed. We allowed them to get in a moments.

“But we regrouped at half-time and knew the game plan. Unfortunately we had a player sent off and we had to regroup again.

“But the player’s worked extremely well. I’m proud of them… we got our rewards in the end. My players were fantastic.”

In 2020, F.Marinos reached the Champions League last 16 under Australian legend Ange Postecoglou while the Japanese club also fell at the same stage during Muscat’s tenure in 2022.