Choi: Jeonbuk desperate to banish 2011 defeat

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors coach Choi Kang-hee says his side are determined to atone for their 2011 AFC Champions League final defeat when they welcome Al Ain for the first leg of this year’s final at Jeonju World Cup Stadium on Saturday.

Jeonbuk were victorious in their first continental final in 2006, but could not repeat that success five years later.

The hosts will certainly be confident of a victory in the first leg this time around, considering they are still unbeaten at home in the competition, winning five and drawing one of their six fixtures to date.

A good result first up will be vital, considering the formidable challenge the second leg at Al Ain will pose the following week.

Choi is uniquely positioned to feel the history of the occasion, having guided Jeonbuk to both their Champions League victory in 2006 and their defeat in 2011.

“In 2006 we won the competition and on the way to the stadium that came back to my mind,” said the 57-year-old.

“Then in 2011 we performed very well but weren’t able to win the trophy. That defeat [on penalties to Qatar’s Al Sadd] became a nightmare and for the past five years it’s been a nightmare every day.

“Now we have the chance to win the competition again and the players are focused, strong and know they have to win. For the club and the fans we have the desire and desperation to win this year.”

While their AFC Champions League campaign this year has been highly successful, the same can not be said of their domestic fortunes.

Having done superbly to progress through the knockout stages in Asia, Jeonbuk suffered heartbreak in early November when a 1-0 loss to FC Seoul on the last day of the season saw them lose out on the K League Classic title.

Choi knows how important it is to erase any thoughts of that defeat come Saturday.

“The players know the importance of this game and I don’t think losing the domestic title will affect them,” he added.

“They know they have to show what they’re capable of.

“Lots of people have talked about our attacking approach and in our home games we usually are adventurous going forward.

“But both teams in the final are strong so we have to prepare well. They have lots of dangerous players and we’ll have to concentrate every minute.

“I believe there may only be a one-goal difference and whoever gets the first goal will have the advantage.”