Korean clubs look to make the AFC quarterfinals

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Korean clubs look to make the AFC quarterfinals

Two Korean clubs will look to make it to the quarterfinals of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League this week.

Ulsan Hyundai FC and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors will both play the second legs of their round of 16 games at home tomorrow.

Jeonbuk will play against Shanghai SIPG at 7 p.m. at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, North Jeolla. Previously, these two teams played to a 1-1 draw last Wednesday in Shanghai.

Ulsan will host Urawa Red Diamonds this time at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan at 8 p.m.

During the first leg of the match, Ulsan enjoyed a 2-1 victory in Saitama, Japan, a week ago.

The aggregate score will determine which team will advance to the quarterfinals, with the away goals rule in effect, meaning that if the score after two matches is tied, the team with more goals scored on the road will be declared the winner.

With two away goals in the bag, Ulsan can afford to lose 1-0 Wednesday and still reach the quarterfinals. A draw by any score will also send Ulsan through to the next stage.

Ulsan hasn’t made it to the final eight at the AFC Champions League since winning the competition in 2012. They have won all three home matches at this year’s tournament without conceding a goal. Urawa, on the other hand, has lost their last six AFC Champions League matches on Korean soil, dating back to 2013.

Jeonbuk managed one away goal against Shanghai last week, and they can advance to the quarterfinals with at least a scoreless draw Wednesday.

In these two clubs’ last meeting in Jeonju three years ago, Jeonbuk destroyed Shanghai 5-0 in the quarterfinals en route to capturing the 2016 AFC Champions League title.

Jeonbuk, who also won the AFC Champions League title in 2006, are in first place in the K League 1. They had a 1-1 draw with Suwon Samsung Bluewings last Sunday to improve to 37 points on 11 wins, four draws and two losses.

FC Seoul has an identical record, but Jeonbuk are ahead of them in goals scored with a league-high 33.

Ulsan, whose only AFC Champions League title came in 2012, have 36 points with 11 wins, three draws and two losses but have one match in hand. Ulsan has had the stingiest defense in the K League 1 this year with only 11 goals allowed.

In Sunday’s match, Jeonbuk rested some of their regulars at the start, including leading scorer Kim Shin-wook, midfielder Ricardo Lopes and defender Hong Jeong-ho, so that they could be fresh and ready to go full throttle against Shanghai.

Ulsan is even better rested because they didn’t even play last weekend. K League clubs participating in the AFC Champions League can have their domestic matches rescheduled, and Ulsan’s Matchday 17 contest against Sangju Sangmu was postponed from last Saturday to July 24.

Ulsan has some injury concern with forward Lee Keun-ho, who started in the first leg and is dealing with some knee pain. Defensive midfielder Park Yong-woo picked up a yellow card in the first match and another yellow will make him ineligible for the first leg in the quarterfinals, if Ulsan advances that far.

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