ACL Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai confident of beating Shanghai

South Korean side Jeonbuk Hyundai go into tonight’s AFC Champions League quarter-final clash against China’s Shanghai SIPG confident of progressing, despite knowing that anything but a victory could see them eliminated.

Although a decent result on the road, Jeonbuk’s 0-0 draw in Shanghai last month means the Koreans need to win if they are to advance in regulation play.

The away goals rule means Shanghai will advance with any kind of score draw, while a goalless tie will lead to extra time and then penalties.

Shanghai will have Brazilian striker Hulk available for the tie after he missed the first leg, and despite the added attacking threat Jeonbuk coach Choi Kang-hee remains supremely confident that his team can advance.

“We will finish the match in 90 minutes. We want to reach the semifinals with a victory,” Choi told the pre-match press conference.

“People say a scoreless draw away is not good, but I think not losing on the road puts us in a favourable situation,” added Choi. “We are absolutely strong at home.”

Choi has every reason to believe, given that Jeonbuk are unbeaten in 29 games in the K-League this season. The Koreans, winners in 2006, are looking to advance to the competition’s semi-finals for the first time since 2011.

Shanghai, meanwhile, will be without key striker Elkeson through suspension, but coach Sven-Goran Eriksson will be able to call on Hulk now he is recovered from an injury that had sidelined him since June.

The former Porto star netted both goals, including a last-minute penalty for Shanghai in their 2-2 draw with Beijing in the Chinese Super League at the weekend.

Key Men:

Hulk (Shanghai SIPG)

The Brazil star will be looking to repay some of the 55 million euro transfer fee Shanghai shelled out to bring him in from Zenit Saint Petersburg in June. The striker, capped 48 times for his country, has only just returned from a lengthy injury lay-off suffered on debut. With both goals in his first game since returning, the powerful forward will be looking to put Jeonbuk’s defence under pressure in the hope of grabbing a crucial away goal.

Lee Dong-gook (Jeonbuk Hyundai)
The veteran striker is eager to put the disappointment of a 2011 loss in the final behind him in what may be his last AFC Champions League campaign. The 37-year old former Werder Bremen and Middlesbrough hitman, with 114 goals in 217 games for Jeonbuk and 9 in 20 league games this season, says he intends to play every game like it’s his last. His partnership with Brazilian striker Leonardo is key to Jeonbuk’s attacking threat.