Published : 2013-09-17 10:31
Updated : 2013-09-17 10:32
FC Seoul will look to reach its first semifinals at the top annual Asian club football competition as it readies to host a Saudi Arabian side this week.
The South Korean club will bring Al Ahli of the Saudi Professional League to Seoul World Cup Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Wednesday for the second leg of their quarterfinals series at the AFC Champions League.
In the first leg played in Saudi Arabia last month, the teams played to a 1-1 draw.
The aggregate score after two legs will determine who will reach the final four. The away-goals rule, which gives more weight to goals scored in an away contest, will be in effect. If the teams are tied in the total score after both legs, then the club with more goals scored away from home will be declared the winner.
FC Seoul can reach its first AFC semifinal with a victory or, under the away-goals rule, with a scoreless tie.
The K League Classic club had failed to advance beyond the quarterfinals in its two earlier trips in 2009 and 2011. Al Ahli was the runner-up to Ulsan Hyundai Tigers, another team from the South Korean league, at last year's AFC tournament.
If FC Seoul reaches the semis, it will face the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between the Thai Premier League leader Buriram United and the Iranian champion Esteghlal.
The importance of having scored a goal on the road was not lost on FC Seoul head coach Choi Yong-soo, who said the draw was "not a bad result."
"It was a very tough trip to Saudi Arabia, and it was a very hard away match because of the jetlag and fatigue," Choi told AFC's website. "We will do our best to use the home ground advantage. The passion of the supporters (at home) drives us to make good results."
Since returning from Saudi Arabia, FC Seoul has gone unbeaten in five matches in the K League Classic. Most recently, FC Seoul blanked the first-place Pohang Steelers 2-0 last Wednesday and is sitting just two points behind Pohang in third place in the current domestic league season.
FC Seoul is the only South Korean club in the quarterfinals. Four K League Classic clubs entered this year's AFC Champions League, but Pohang Steelers and Suwon Bluewings were knocked out of the opening phase. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors joined FC Seoul in the round of 16 before getting eliminated by Kashiwa Reysol of Japan.
In the second leg, FC Seoul will have the service of the veteran defender Adilson dos Santos, a Brazilian who is affectionately called Adi. He was ineligible for the first leg after picking up two yellow cards in his previous appearance.
Choi said he is looking forward to having Adi back on his defense.
"Adilson is a reliable player," Choi said. "He is the core of our team, and his return will definitely help our side."
Choi said Al Ahli is a team "with good individual skills and teamwork," but not unbeatable by any means.
"(Defensive back) Mustafa Al Bassas is a promising player, and he will be the future of Saudi Arabian football," Choi said. "Bruno Cesar (midfielder from Brazil) is a splendid player who can control the game with experience and great finishing. Even though Al Ahli has a lot of good players, I believe that FC Seoul has many talented players and that we are well organized." (Yonhap news)