Yokohama F Marinos will have two chances to book their ticket to the 2020 AFC Champions League Round of 16, but head coach Ange Postecoglou is eager to ensure that only one is required when they face Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors today. Joint group leaders alongside Shanghai SIPG on nine points, the 2019 J1 League champions hold a handsome five-point advantage on third-placed Jeonbuk, meaning their progression will be secure even with a draw at the Al Janoub Stadium.
But head coach Angle Postecoglou has never been known to approach games looking for any other than three points, and the former Australia boss declared he was excited about the 90 minutes ahead.
“It’s another good challenge for us. They’re a very good team with a very good coach and they’ve been successful again in the K League. They have great pedigree in this tournament. They have a few injuries and players missing, but it is a great challenge for us.
“We’re trying to establish ourselves in this competition for years to come and games like tomorrow are a good chance to test ourselves against one of Asia’s best,” said Postecoglou.
The meeting between the Japanese and Korean clubs comes nearly 10 months after they began their respective campaigns against one another in Jeonju.
Yokohama were the much better team on that occasion, winning the match 2-1 and dominating proceedings in a manner which has rarely been seen by visiting teams at Jeonbuk’s home ground, but Postecoglou declared that a match played nine months ago has little relevance to the current stage of competition.
While anything other than defeat will extend Postecoglou and company’s stay in Doha, Jeonbuk will return to action knowing that a win against Yokohama will account for just one element of the complicated escape they must produce to keep their dream of a third trophy in 2020 alive. The K League and Korean FA Cup winners must defeat both Yokohama and Shanghai SIPG in their two remaining matches, in addition to hoping already eliminated Sydney FC take points off one or both of the group leaders.
In 12 previous appearances in the AFC Champions League, Jeonbuk have failed to advance to the knockout stage just once - in 2012. The club have twice been crowned Asian champions, with current Shanghai Shenhua boss Choi Kang-hee leading them to glory in 2006 and 2016.
Shanghai looking to continue momentum against Sydney
Shanghai SIPG boss Vitor Perreira is looking for a continuation of the form which has his side within one win of the 2020 AFC Champions League Round of 16 when they face Australia’s Sydney FC today.
The Chinese side stand on the brink of the knockout stage after accruing nine points, with third-placed Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, who are five points further back, the only team who can still change the Group H qualification make-up.
Shanghai SIPG have it all to play for at Al Janoub Stadium, but Sydney FC will be competing for pride only after suffering back to back defeats in their two prior outings in Doha, and Pereira is eager to ensure his side don’t fall victim to an upset. For much of the week, Pereira has openly wondered about the best way to navigate his player pool through a heavy schedule which will see Shanghai SIPG play six matches across 16 days in the group stage.
One player who will be fresher than most is star forward Hulk, who was substituted after an hour in last Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Yokohama F Marinos and wasn’t even on the bench when they defeated the same opponents on Saturday.
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