Former champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and fellow K-League side Suwon Samsung Bluewings continue their bids to keep the AFC Champions League title in Korean hands for a third consecutive season in this week's semi-final first legs against Saudi Arabia's Al Ittihad and Qatar's Al Sadd.
Jeonbuk, who are six points clear at the top of the K-league table with two games remaining, must travel to the Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium for the first leg against Al Ittihad on Wednesday and will look to avoid the fate of FC Seoul, who lost 3-1 in Jeddah in last month's quarter-final first leg.
Choi Kang-hee's Jeonbuk advanced to the last four for the first time since their 2006 success after empathically beating Japan's Cerezo Osaka 9-5 on aggregate in last month's quarter-finals thanks to six goals from striker Lee Dong-gook.
The striker had scored twice in first leg only to see tournament debutants Cerezo fightback to earn a 4-3 advantage, but in the return fixture the J.League side had no answer and Lee took his tournament tally to nine after plundering a 15 minute hat-trick in an outstanding four goal second leg performance.
Lee's goals also earned the striker a recall to the Korea Republic national team and the striker made a second half substitute appearance in the 2-1 win over the United Arab Emirates in last week's third round FIFA World Cup qualifier after making his last appearance in the Round of 16 defeat by Uruguay at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
"We still have time to think about Al Ittihad," said Jeonbuk coach Choi after the 6-1 quarter-final second leg victory over Cerezo.
"If we use the time and prepare well, we can go to the final."
Al Ittihad, who edged out FC Seoul 3-2 on aggregate despite suffering a 1-0 second leg defeat in Korea, though, will look to make full use of home advantage on Wednesday ahead of next week's second leg considering Jeonbuk's proficiency in front of goal which has seen the K-League side plunder 26 goals in the nine games.
"We are not thinking about Jeonbuk," said Al Ittihad coach Dimitri Davidovic after the quarter-final second defeat by FC Seoul.
"We know they are a tough team and they have won the competition in the past."
Al Ittihad, who shared a 2-2 draw with Al Shabab in their last domestic outing on Saturday,
will be without Abusabaan Mohammed after the midfielder picked up yellow cards in both legs of the quarter-final win over FC Seoul last month.
Suwon, meanwhile, will look to bounce back from losing 1-0 to Seongnam in the Korean FA Cup final at the weekend in Wednesday's first leg at Suwon World Cup Stadium after the two-time Asian Club Championship winners edged out Iran's Zobahan 3-2 on aggregate in last month's quarter-finals to maintain their impressive unbeaten record in the competition.
With the sides locked together at 1-1 from the first leg in Korea, Mato Neretljak's penalty in the first half of extra-time sent Suwon through to the last four after Yang Sang-min's header with 13 minutes remaining in normal time had cancelled out Mohammad Ghazi's 50th minute volley at Foolad Shahr Stadium.
Suwon coach Yoon Sung-hyo will also be forced into a change for the first leg with right-back Oh Beom-seok ruled out through suspension.
Al Sadd, meanwhile, recorded a morale-boosting third consecutive win in the Qatar Stars League after beating Al Khor 3-1 on Sunday.
And coach Jorge Fossati will look to go on step further in 2011 after his Al Shabab side lost out on away goals to eventual champions Seongnam in last year's semi-finals, although the Uruguayan will be unable to call upon influential captain Abdulla Koni for the first leg as the defender serves a one game suspension.
AFC Champions League Semi-Finals
First Leg - October 19
Suwon Samsung Bluewings (KOR) v Al Sadd (QAT), Suwon World Cup Stadium
Al Ittihad (KSA) v Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR), Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium
Second Leg - October 26
Al Sadd (QAT) v Suwon Samsung Bluewings (KOR), Sheik Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium, Doha
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (KOR) v Al Ittihad (KSA), Jeonju World Cup Stadium, Jeonju