Matchday four of the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup continued overnight. Here are some of the biggest results so far.
Muscat’s press conference halted… by mobile phone
Press conferences are usually straightforward, somewhat, for coaches. It’s obviously dependant on the result but dissect the match and answer questions from reporters.
Kevin Muscat, though, had his media duties interrupted in a bizarre moment after Yokohama F.Marinos overcame 10-man Kaya FC in Manila, Philippines on Tuesday.
Yan Matheus’ volley with three minutes remaining guided F.Marinos to a 2-1 victory as the Japanese giants took another step towards the knockout round on matchday four.
After the match, as Muscat was speaking to the media, the press conference came to a brief halt.
While Muscat’s translator was busy translating, a mobile phone went off.
The translator paused and Muscat’s eyes suddenly piqued with interest
The Australian legend asked: “Are you okay?”.
As the ring tone continued to be heard while the AFC media representative asked reports to switch their phones to silent, Muscat added, “Are we interrupting you?”.
Smiling, Muscat laughed, looked around and shook his head in disbelief before the press conference resumed.
As for matters on the pitch, Muscat was not happy with the location of the match, which was played on an artificial surface in the Filipino capital.
“Obviously pleased. We creep over halfway in the group to have three wins. Tonight was extremely difficult circumstances,” he said.
“For us to overcame an extremely difficult challenge to play, with all respect, on that surface was really difficult.
“Grateful that nobody from either team was hurt because it’s very difficult for athletes to perform at their optimum level on that type of field.”
Muscat guided F.Marinos to the J1 League title last season and the defending champions are still in contention for back-to-back trophies.
F.Marinos are second and two points behind Vissel Kobe with three games remaining as they prepare to host Cerezo Osaka on Sunday.
Muscat added: “I have a concern over the quality and safety (of the pitch).
“We go back to Yokohama and we have a game on Sunday where we are fighting for a championship. We left players backs in Yokohama.”
Mohun Bagan coach scathing of conditions in Bangladesh
Jason Cummings and Brandon Hamill were unable to prevent Mohun Bagan from tasting a shock defeat, while their coach Juan Ferrando made his feelings known about the state of the pitch.
Indian Super League champions Mohun Bagan were replaced by Bashundhara Kings at the top of Group D in the AFC Cup following their 2-1 defeat in Bangladesh.
Former Central Coast Mariners star Cummings started along with ex-A-Leagues defender and current captain Hamill, while fellow Australian Dimitri Petratos was an unused substitute.
Ferrando’s post-game comments appeared to suggest Petratos may have been struggling with an injury or illness.
“Today my team had a lot of problems,” the Spaniard told reporters.
“Some issues, some injuries, fevers. This is part of football. Sometimes everyone is ready and sometime it’s difficult.”
Ferrando, though, questioned the AFC and the state of the field in Bangladesh as Mohun Bagan slipped behind their opponents on goal difference after four matchdays.
Cummings had helped give the visitors the lead when his cross into the area was saved by the goalkeeper but parried into the path of Liston Colaco in the 17th minute.
However, Bashundhara scored two unanswered goals, including the winner 10 minutes from the end.
“Difficult to play in this ground. The ground, everybody knows is not in good condition,” Ferrando said having become the first Mohun Bagan to lose to Bangladeshi competition in the AFC.
“The extra time for me was incredible. But I don’t like to talk because people maybe think I’m making excuses.
“For me it’s not excuses. In this competition it’s incredible these conditions. But okay, if they accept to play here, we come here and play.
“It’s personal to think whether it’s good or not for the image of the competition playing on these grounds.”
Odisha are third in the group and only a point adrift after Wellington Phoenix legend Roy Krishna scored the 85th-minute winner in the 3-2 victory away to Maziya.
No Ronaldo? No worries
Cristiano Ronaldo was absent on Wednesday (AEDT) but Al Nassr still preserved their 100% record in the AFC Champions League.
Ronaldo has been in sensational form this season, scoring 21 goals in 22 matches across all competitions but the Portuguese superstar was rested for the matchup against Philippe Coutinho’s Al Duhail.
Even in his absence, Al Nassr emerged 3-2 winners in the United Arab Emirates thanks to Talisca’s hat-trick.
Former Liverpool and Barcelona star Coutinho scored twice for Al Duhail – who are now coached by ex-Paris Saint-Germain boss Christophe Gaultier – however Saudi giants Al Nassr proved too strong.
Al Nassr, who also boast ex-Liverpool and Bayern Munich forward Sadio Mane, Marcelo Brozovic and Aymeric Laporte, are five points clear atop Group E.
Al Duhail are bottom with just one points from four games.
Elsewhere, star-studded Al Hilal defeated Rostyn Griffiths’ Mumbai City 2-0 in Group D on Tuesday.
On Monday, Karim Benzema’s Al Ittihad were upstaged 2-0 by Iraq’s Air Force Club in Group C.
The Saudi champions have since sacked head coach Nuno Espirito Santo amid their run of five games without a win in the league.