Preview: Al Ain look to storm fortress Jeonju in ACL final
SEOUL (Reuters) - East Asian organisation comes face-to-face with West Asian flair when South Korea's Jeonbuk Motors host Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates in the first leg of the Asian Champions League final on Saturday.
Jeonbuk will be looking to rebound from the disappointing climax to the domestic season, when they lost 1-0 at home to FC Seoul to relinquish the K-League title they had held for the previous two years.
Despite that defeat, Choi Kang-hee's side regard the Jeonju World Cup Stadium as a fortress and will be confident of taking some advantage back to the Emirati Garden City for the second leg on Nov. 26.
Their main forward threat comes from Brazilian winger Leonardo, who has scored eight goals in the competition so far, and they are led on the field by the marshal of their impressive defence, goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae.
"The West Asian sides are less structured and organised than us and are able to play with a certain degree of freedom and creativity," said Kwoun, who already owns an Asian Champions League winners medal from Jeonbuk's 2006 triumph.
"But our team has a stronger mentality and more disciplined positioning with greater physical strength.
"The way to defeat them is to restrict their movement and creativity, and disrupt their tempo on the field – we need to be the ones to impose ourselves on the game and control the momentum and tempo."
Like Jeonbuk, Al Ain are former champions having won the inaugural title in 2003.
They will be looking to their impressive attack to bring the title back to West Asia for the first time since Qatar's Al Sadd beat Jeonbuk on penalties in a one-off match in Jeonju to decide the 2011 Asian champions.
Brazilian Douglas leads the Al Ain line but it is the silky skills of Omar Abdulrahman that provide the inspiration, the midfielder's left foot able to unlock the tightest of defences.
His fellow UAE international Ismail Ahmed is the rock in the Al Ain defence and he thinks he has a good take on what to expect from the South Koreans.
"They are a side who rely on quick counter-attacks and they play on the flanks. We know that they play as one unit and this is one of their characteristics," he said.
"We are prepared for them, we are not afraid, and we are capable of achieving a good result."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Ian Ransom)