Sekine seeking Reds’ redemption in Nabisco Cup quarter-finals

Sekine seeking Reds’ redemption in Nabisco Cup quarter-finals

Takahiro Sekine hopes Urawa Reds make up for last season’s disappointment in the Yamazaki Nabisco Cup when they face Albirex Niigata in this year’s tournament.

The pair will face each other in the quarter-finals on September 2 and 6, with the Reds bowing out to Sanfrecce Hiroshima at this stage in 2014 on the away-goals rule.

And Sekine has urged the new MEIJI YASUDA J1 League first stage winners to redeem themselves with victory this time, and is confident their form puts them in a good position to progress.

“We didn’t lose either leg in last year’s quarter-finals, but we weren’t able to progress to the semi-finals,” the winger said after the draw was held on Monday.

“That’s the difficulty of the Nabisco Cup. It’s important to win on aggregate, so that’s our responsibility as players.

“No matter who our opponents are, we’ll earn a good result if we do our job. We’re playing well in the league, so I hope we’ll play well in the Cup too.”

On the other hand, Albirex have endured a difficult season, with Masaaki Yanagishita’s team finishing the first stage second from the bottom.

Forward Hiroshi Ibusuki nevertheless insisted his side are not intimidated by their opponents despite the difference in their respective league standing, and is targeting an upset.

“If we continued to win, there was a good chance we’d face Urawa Reds sooner or later,” the former Sevilla and Real Zaragoza youth said.

“If we can win the first match at home, we can get the momentum we need to win. Of course they won the first stage [of the league] and are without a doubt they’re a strong team.

“But it’s not impossible for us. I want to win these two games and move on to the semi-finals in order to play for the championship.”