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Crespo ready to renew Kewell rivalry in Asian Champions League final

Crespo ready to renew Kewell rivalry in Asian Champions League final

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Crespo will be hoping for a different outcome from the last time he played Kewell

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YOKOHAMA (Reuters) - Al-Ain coach Hernan Crespo is relishing renewing hostilities with Yokohama F Marinos' Harry Kewell as the pair meet in the Asian Champions League final on Saturday, 19 years after one of the most dramatic UEFA Champions League finals ever.

Crespo will be hoping for a different outcome from the last time he played Kewell, who was part of the Liverpool side that fought back from going three goals down in Istanbul to defeat AC Milan on penalties to win the 2005 European title.

"It's amazing the situation, we will face him in another Champions League final," said the Argentinian, who has been in charge of the club from the United Arab Emirates since November.

"I always face him in great events. It was a very difficult night for me, but it's like this.

"We face each other again and it's a pleasure to meet him again after a long time also because we will face each other in another situation, no more as a football player but as coaches.

"Life keeps going and we try to reinvent our lives and we are here again to be competitive like when we were young."
The teams meet in the first leg of the decider at Yokohama International Stadium with both having overcome the odds to reach the final.

Al-Ain are appearing in their fourth Asian Champions League final, having lost in 2005 and 2016 after lifting their first and only continental crown in 2003.

Crespo's side defeated heavily favoured Saudi Arabian duo Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively to meet a Marinos side attempting to win the title for the first time.

Kewell's team laboured throughout the knockout rounds, needing extra-time to beat Bangkok United in the last 16 before defeating China's Shandong Taishan in the quarter-finals and winning on penalties against Ulsan Hyundai to reach the final.

"It's not easy to reach the final in Asia now," said Crespo, whose side will host the second leg on May 25. "We have worked very hard to reach here but it's normal to feel pressure.

"You play in a final, a high event, and it's special. But we need to live with this situation and to live this moment because it will be a great day for us, depending on the result.