It’s tough being Urawa Reds. The “biggest club in Asia” tag is a difficult one to live down, even if the Saitama giants haven’t come close to winning a trophy for years.
The Reds burst onto the Asian football scene by winning the J. League under the swashbuckling auspices of German coach Guido Buchwald in 2006, before his more circumspect successor Holger Osieck steered the Saitama giants to Asian Champions League glory the following year.
But no sooner had Urawa begun to dominate the J. League than their world fell apart, as the popular Saitama side spectacularly disintegrated in the 2007 title race, prompting the dismissal of coach Osieck just two games into the 2008 season. Two more Togel Singapore German coaches followed, but neither Gert Engels nor Volker Finke could steer Urawa to the silverware they so desperately craved.
Enter Zeljko Petrovic. The Montenegrin coach enjoyed a peripatetic playing career, turning out for the likes of Dinamo Zagreb, Sevilla and PSV Eindhoven in a 16-year career spent largely in the Netherlands. Petrovic ended his playing days at small Dutch outfit RKC Waalwijk – the club he coached in the Dutch second division in 2007-08 – but crucially he also enjoyed a three-year spell in Japan with Urawa Reds.
Petrovic’s time in Japan coincided with Urawa’s relegation to the second tier of the J. League and the charismatic coach knows all about the Reds’ storied history. Urawa packed out every game of their compact Komaba Stadium home in the second division and crowds have continued to grow since their move to the futuristic Saitama Stadium.
Indeed, a crowd of 42,767 fans turned out at Saitama Stadium on April 24 to see Urawa hammer defending champions Nagoya Grampus 3-0, in a match …