Kobe Forever Forward: Vissel vies for top spot in Asia at AFC Champions League
The stage is set for Vissel Kobe to achieve their long-coveted goal of becoming the No.1 soccer club in Asia. After winning the Emperor’s Cup title in historic fashion earlier this year, Vissel Kobe catapulted to the international soccer stage via their first-time entry into the AFC Champions League, the premier club tournament in Asia. Vissel has already snapped up two wins in the opening round of the tournament that determines which team reigns supreme on the continent.
Kobe Forever Forward
Vissel’s success on the pitch comes at a good time. This year marks the 25th anniversary of both Vissel Kobe and the Great Hanshin Earthquake, which devastated the club’s hometown of Kobe. After the tragedy, the team and the people of Kobe worked to rebuild the city, strengthening the bonds between the organization and its supporters.
Ever since, the club’s goal has been to bring titles to the city, revitalize Kobe, and become the No.1 soccer club in Asia. After two and a half decades, the team finally brought a championship to Kobe this year and advanced to the international stage.
Becoming the best will not be easy, as a total of 32 premier clubs from all over Asia are competing for the AFC Champions League crown. The clubs are first divided into 8 groups of 4, with only the winning team and the runner-up progressing to the next stage.
In group G, Vissel Kobe faces fierce competitors: Johor Darul Ta’zim FC, winners of the Malaysian Super League six times running, Suwon Samsung Bluewings FC, a popular Korean soccer club which advanced to the semi-finals of AFC Champions League in 2018, and Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao FC, who won the champions league twice back in the last decade. However, Vissel is well prepared for the challenges that lie beyond their path. Led by global superstar Andrés Iniesta, the team holds many stars of their own, as five players boast experience on the Japanese national team, most notably Hotaru Yamaguchi, Daigo Nishi and Kyogo Furuhashi, who were all nominated to represent Japan last year.
Keeping the momentum
The first match to kick off Vissel’s historic AFC journey was against Malaysian powerhouse Johor Darul Ta’zim. Cheered by their fans, Vissel kept their Emperor’s Cup momentum going with an outstanding team performance that saw them win the game 5-1. Since September, Vissel has not lost a match and they kept their recent winning streak alive in their next match against Suwon Samsung Bluewings FC, defeating the veteran side 1-0 and securing their ticket to the next round of the AFC.
To Their “Goal”
Vissel Kobe started the new decade with a bang; bringing the first ever title to the city of Kobe, but their fight has just begun. Obtaining the ticket to the AFC Champions League for the first time in the club’s history, Vissel has never been this close to realizing its dream to become the No.1 soccer club in Asia. Even though the competition will be fierce, the support of the fans and their excellent players may give Vissel the boost needed to achieve their goal.