Former A-Leagues star’s wild Yokohama F.Marinos debut had everything

There were plenty of goals and drama as Harry Kewell’s Yokohama F.Marinos debut resulted in a thrilling 2-2 draw against Bangkok United in the opening leg of the AFC Champions League Round of 16.

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

In Thailand on Wednesday night, former Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City (then known as Melbourne Heart) star Kewell – the third consecutive Australian to lead F.Marinos following Muscat and Ange Postecoglou, saw his side give up a two-goal lead as Thai Premier League leaders Bangkok United equalised in the 92nd minute.

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“The conditions were tough for my players,” the Socceroos legend told reporters post-match.

“We are coming out of a tough pre-season and it was always going to be a difficult game, especially in the Champions League. Round of 16, every team that makes this competition, especially at the last entry of the competition are going to be difficult and we saw it tonight.

“We controlled the game, we had moments but I felt we gave the ball away in silly areas where they can use their knowledge and understanding of the game to break us.

“We felt we had enough to dominate the game but we just can’t relax in the last 16 of any competition because the teams will punish you. Full credit to Bangkok United, they continued to try to play.

“It sets up an excellent second leg.”

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Kewell arrived from Scottish champions Celtic, where he was brought to Glasgow by then-boss Postecoglou to be part of his coaching staff, for his first senior head coaching role since 2021.

He inherited an F.Marinos side, who had not played since the end of the 2023 J1 League campaign in December having finished second to Vissel Kobe.

Midweek, F.Marinos raced out to a 2-0 lead inside 24 minutes before the home side pulled a goal back 10 minutes prior to half-time.

Bangkok United’s Mahmoud Eid then restored parity in the second minute of stoppage time, while F.Marinos’ Ken Matsubara was sent off four minutes later.

Kewell added: “The one thing is we are looking forward to playing in front of our home fans and drawing from that.

“Putting on a performance worthy of the Marinos jersey.”