It’s all to play for in Jeonju as Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors host Melbourne Victory in the second leg of their AFC Champions League round of 16 clash on Tuesday.
The hosts enter the tie with a slight edge following their away goal in the 1-1 draw that played out at AAMI Park last week.
It was Melbourne Victory’s first appearance in the knockout round and they started with a bang, taking the early lead via Besart Berisha. Jeonbuk’s Leonardo equalised just minutes later and the teams battled to a draw.
The Brazilian’s all-important away goal means that a draw at Jeonju World Cup Stadium would be enough to see the South Korean club through to the quarter-finals for the seventh time in their history.
As a result, Melbourne have to chase goals on Tuesday if they want to stay in the competition. History is against the Australian outfit as they have a poor away record, with no wins from their last 15 games in the competition.
On the domestic front, Jeonbuk recently came from behind to defeat Jeonnam Dragons 2-1, which puts them tied at the top of the K-League table with FC Seoul.
Jeonbuk coach Choi Kang-hee revealed that the players had recovered from the first leg and are ready for action.
“The players were tired after the long trip to Australia but one by one, they have recovered,” he told afc.com. “We are at home and we are looking to win the game without conceding a goal. Our target for the first half of the year was always to secure a spot in the last eight.”
While Jeonbuk are on an impressive unbeaten run of 11 games in all competitions, they have still been conceding goals, which is worrying for the home side as an away goal from Melbourne could put the visitors in pole position to advance to the quarter-finals.
“We are conceding every game,” added Choi. “We are especially making mistakes at corners and have been working on that in training. It is not going to be easy but the players have been working hard and are looking forward to the game.”
Meanwhile, Melbourne coach Kevin Muscat is banking on netting an away goal at the very least on Tuesday.
— Melbourne Victory (@gomvfc) May 23, 2016
“We have scored at least once in every away game,” said Muscat. “If you watch the first leg again you can see that we should have scored more than one. We played well in the first game and we are looking forward to the second leg. We may be away from home but we are feeling comfortable in our preparations.
“We really want to get to the last eight. The motivation is very strong among the players.”
A win would see Melbourne become just the third Australian club in history to reach the quarter-final stage of the event.
Jeonbuk and Melborne will face off at 17:50 HKT on FOX Sports 3.