Reds, Sepahan bid to break new ground in Asia

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SINGAPORE, Oct 23 (Reuters) Japan's Urawa Reds and Iranian side Sepahan bid tomorrow to become the first teams from their countries to reach the final of Asia's premier club competition.

J-League leaders Reds host South Korean champions Seongnam Ilhwa in Saitama having earned a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final three weeks ago.

Sepahan travel to Al Wahda, of the United Arab Emirates, confident of defending a 3-1 first leg lead.

Urawa have two away goals in hand, having given up a late equaliser to Seongnam during the first leg in Korea, but are unbeaten at home in the competition this season and are favourites to progress.

Seongnam can take heart from their performance in the 2004 semi-finals when they needed victory away to Uzbekistan's Pakthakor and earned a 2-0 win against a team who were previously undefeated at home.

Hafzi Cup winners Sepahan will be confident of becoming the first Iranian side to reach the final of the new-look AFC Champions League.

Pas were the last team from Iran to taste major continental success when they won the 1992 Asian Club Championship.

Al Wahda suffered a psychological blow before their uphill task when they lost 3-0 to Qatar Sports Club in a friendly.

They will also be without defender Yaser Abdulla, who is suspended after picking up a red card in the first leg.

The two legs of the final are scheduled for November 7 and November 14.

REUTERS CS SSC1140

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