AFC CL Playoff Preview: Ulsan target group stage spot over Kitchee

In Tuesday’s AFC Champions League East Region Play-off action at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium, Korea Republic’s former winners Ulsan Hyundai will be up against visiting Kitchee SC from Hong Kong, hoping to secure a spot in Group E.

Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR) vs Kitchee SC (HKG)
Venue: Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium, Ulsan
Kick-off: February 7, 08:30 PM (HKT)
Winners will progress to Group E

For the past two-years, Ulsan have not qualified for the Champions League and will be targeting a fifth appearance in the Group Stages, having won the event previously in 2012, beating Saudi Arabia's Al-Ahli 3-0 in the final. 

Ulsan is fortunate to have got this far as they were put through when defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors were excluded from this year’s tournament by the Asian Football Confederation due to a Jeonbuk club scout allegedly bribing referees in 2013. 

Jeonbuk's appeal to be reinstated was rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on February 3 this year.

The K League Classic 2017 is yet to kick-off so Ulsan has had limited action in 2017, bar some friendlies, but did finish in fourth place in the standings last season.

In a chat with reporters, Ulsan coach Kim Do-Hoon said: "We obviously need a goal to win. I think our strikers are quite able to deliver for us. 

"Our players have been well-prepared and we have done a lot of relative analysis through video.

"We also have faith in our defence, led by Kim Sung Hwan."

For Kitchee, this will be the first time that they or any Hong Kong side have reached the Play-offs stage, having reached this stage with an extra-time 3-2 victory over Hanoi FC. 

On the domestic front, the last Hong Kong Premier League action for Kitchee took place in September.