Aggressive plan for former champions Jeonbuk

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors coach Fabio Lefundes has promised an aggressive strategy against Kashiwa Reysol in their AFC Champions League Round of 16 clash.

Lee Dong-gook, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Having failed to qualify for the knockout stage for the first time last year, the 2006 winners posted an unbeaten record to finish second behind Guangzhou Evergrande in Group F following a nervous draw with the Chinese Super League champions on the final Matchday two weeks ago.

And after edging out fellow former champions Urawa Reds by virtue of a superior head-to-head record, Jeonbuk will entertain Emperor's Cup winners Kashiwa in their first leg of their last 16 tie at Jeonju World Cup Stadium ahead of the return fixture in Japan next week.

"We expect to reach the quarter-finals," said Jeonbuk coach Lefundes.

"As the first match is at home, we will adopt an aggressive strategy to win and also so that we do not concede any away goals."

Lefundes will be without defender Kwon Kyung-won due to suspension as Jeonbuk look to extend their six game unbeaten record in all competitions following Saturday's 2-2 draw with Chunnam Dragons.

"We had many new players this season and throughout the Group Stage they have learned to trust each other and also become better organised," added Lefundes.

"This has helped our performances improve and given us confidence that we can get a good result in the Round of 16."

Kashiwa are also looking to protect their own uneaten record in the AFC Champions League this season after winning Group H ahead of Australia's Central Coast Mariners.

Nelsinho Baptista's side rounded off their impressive Group Stage campaign with an 3-0 win over the Mariners in Australia at the end of April and have since also beaten both Yokohama F. Marinos and Jubilo Iwata in the J.League to head to Korea looking to extend a three-match winning run.

Central Coast, meanwhile, welcome Guangzhou to Gosford with Graham Arnold's Grand Final winners seeking to bounce back from that home defeat by Kashiwa having become only the third A-League side to reach the Round of 16.

"We're expecting a very hard game against the powerhouse of Asian football," said Mariners captain John Hutchinson, who also played for Central Coast in their two previous AFC Champions League campaigns in 2009 and 2012.

"They are a massive club with unbelievable players and a great manager, so we know it's going to be a tough game.

"But we at the Mariners always try to fight hard for ourselves as a team, and hopefully we can come away with a positive result."

With the defeat by Kashiwa, which was only the Mariners' second home defeat in all competitions this season, marking Central Coast's last competitive outing following the end of the A-League season, Graham Arnold's side recently took on a domestic-based Australia squad who are preparing for next month's final round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Guangzhou, meanwhile, remained three points clear at the top of the Chinese Super League after Gao Lin scored twice to secure a 3-0 win over Shanghai Shenhua on Friday.

Coach Marcello Lippi will be without midfielder Qin Sheng due to suspension, although defender Zhang Linpeng is eligible to return after missing the draw with Jeonbuk as Guangzhou look to advance to the quarter-finals for a second consecutive season.

Also on Wednesday, newly crowned Iran Pro League champions Esteghlal travel to the UAE to face play-off winners Al Shabab Al Arabi, while Saudi Arabia's Al Hilal entertain Qatar champions Lekhwiya.

Having secured a place in the last 16 for the first time with a 2-1 win over Uzbekistan champions Pakhtakor on the final Matchday earlier this month, Al Shabab Al Arabi coach Marcos Paqueta faces a major selection headache ahead of the visit of Esteghlal with defenders Mohammed Marzooq, Walid Abbas and Ali Mahmood suspended along with midfielder Hassan Ibrahim.

All four started the 2-1 win in Tashkent as Al Shabab Al Arabi denied AFC Champions League ever-presents Pakhtakor a return to the knockout stages by sealing second place in Group B behind Lekhwiya.

Eric Gerets' Lekhwiya are also appearing in the last 16 for the first time against an Al Hilal side who secured their fourth consecutive appearance in the knockout stage after sealing a runners-up finish in Group D behind Esteghlal.



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