Choi: Champions League has been three years in making

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors boss Choi Kang-hee believes lifting the AFC Champions League is reward for a three-year project at the club.

Choi returned to Jeonbuk in 2014 after guiding South Korea to the World Cup finals, and set about reclaiming the Champions League trophy that he lifted in 2006 during his first spell at the club.

Jeonbuk fulfilled that ambition on Saturday night after a 3-2 aggregate victory over United Arab Emirates outfit Al Ain.

“It’s our first title since 2006, I’m so really happy,” said Choi, who was also a runner-up with Jeonbuk in 2011.

“When we lost in 2011, I saw the fans were so dispirited, so winning the AFC Champions League is an unforgettable dream.

“Since coming back to Jeonbuk from the national team in 2014 we have been building this team so that we can win the AFC Champions League.

“Finally, it has happened. I want to thank the fans. This is for them.”

Jeonbuk held a 2-1 lead from the first leg and increased their advantage through a Han Kyo-won strike.

Lee Myung-joo levelled for Al Ain and Douglas missed a penalty for the hosts, but Jeonbuk held on to become the first Korean side to win the tournament since Ulsan Hyundai in 2012.

“We were motivated even though the game was very tough, we needed to overcome Al Ain even if they played very well,” added Choi.

“In every position all the players worked together to become one team and finally we became the 2016 AFC Champions League winners.

“There were two key points in the match, the first goal and the missed penalty from Al Ain. I just gave the players a positive mind to deal with any problems in the game.”