Yokohama F. Marinos vs Incheon United
Nissan Stadium forms the backdrop for the 2023/24 AFC Champions League Group G curtain-raiser between Yokohama F. Marinos and Incheon United.
Yokohama’s new continental campaign begins at the worst possible moment for Kevin Muscat’s team after a dismal run of one win in their last five competitive outings (D1, L3) left their lofty ambitions in tatters. Yokohama needed a stoppage-time equalizer to avoid defeat against sub-par Sagan Tosu at the weekend, drawing 1-1 on home turf as Vissel Kobe leapfrogged them at the J1 League summit. With a single point separating the sides, the ‘Marinos’ are still relevant in the domestic title race, but Muscat must stem the bleeding sooner rather than later. Playing at home should bolster their chances of getting back on track, with Yokohama racking up three wins and a draw across their last four matches at the Nissan Stadium.
Meanwhile, despite going into their Champions League qualification playoffs against Vietnamese outfit Hai Phong as odds-on favorites, Incheon United had to survive extra-time drama to secure a group stage berth (3-1 AET). Their three league outings since have alternated between winning (2) and losing (1), leaving their hopes of ensuring a spot in the K League 1 playoffs in the balance. Level on points with 6th-placed Jeonbuk Motors, Incheon would be forgiven for prioritizing domestic proceedings over continental commitments. But Yokohama cannot afford to underestimate the South Korean side, considering Jo Sung-hwan’s men have emerged victorious in three of their last four away league matches (L1).