Kim calls for final push as Ulsan home in on Asian Champions League title

Michael Church
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: AFC Champions League - Quarter Final - Ulsan Hyundai v Beijing Guoan

By Michael Church

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Head coach Kim Do-hoon has called on his Ulsan Hyundai side to stay focused for one more game as the South Koreans seek to claim the Asian Champions League title with victory over Iran’s Persepolis in Doha on Saturday.

The Koreans, who have impressed throughout this year's campaign and have yet to lose in nine matches so far, are aiming to win Asia’s continental club title for the first time since 2012 as they look to bring a positive conclusion to a so-far trophy-less season.

Ulsan finished runners-up in both of their domestic competitions – the K-League and the Korean FA Cup – to bitter rivals Jeonbuk Motors, but go into the meeting at the Al Janoub Stadium as favourites to lift the trophy.

"We had a good period to recover after the semi-final, all the players enjoyed training and we prepared very well," said Kim, ahead of what is widely expected to be his last game in charge of the club.

"We analysed Persepolis; they are an organised team with stamina and are a physical team and very powerful on the pitch.

"It is important to start focused and this is our last game, so we need to not feel the pressure and enjoy our game."

Ulsan's win deep into extra-time over Japan’s Vissel Kobe in Sunday's semi-final earned the club a place in the decider for the first time since 2012, when they defeated Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli in the final, as well as an eighth straight victory in this year’s COVID-19 affected competition.

Qatar, where much of the tournament has been played on a centralised basis in a bio-secure bubble since its resumption, has been a happy hunting ground for Kim’s team.

Ulsan have a 100 percent record in the Gulf state, winning all eight games and conceding five goals since their first game in Doha on November 21 against Shanghai Shenhua, and Kim is keen to maintain that run against Yahya Golmohammadi’s side.

"I am really proud of the fact we came here to Qatar and fought all the way until the final," said the former South Korean international striker. "We face a great team tomorrow. We played very well so far and we want to do everything tomorrow to win the title."

(Reporting by Michael Church, Editing by William Maclean)