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Football: FC Seoul savour home opener against Guangzhou in ACL final

Korea Republic international Kim Chi-woo is keen for FC Seoul to keep a blank sheet on Saturday when they host in-form Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League final first leg at Seoul World Cup Stadium. Photo: WSG.

Korea Republic international Kim Chi-woo wants FC Seoul to keep a blank sheet on Saturday when they host in-form Chinese champions Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League final first leg at Seoul World Cup Stadium. Photo: WSG.

October 23, 2013: Korea Republic international Kim Chi-woo wants FC Seoul to make the most of home advantage in the first leg of the AFC Champions League final as they host China’s Guangzhou Evergrande at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Saturday.

 

Bidding to become the fourth Korean side to win the AFC Champions League in five years, the K-League champions are unbeaten at home in the AFC Champions League this season.

 

A solid defensive unit, FC Seoul have only lost once on their travels, when they were edged 1-0 by Vegalta Sendai in Japan in the group stage before claiming impressive draws in both Saudi Arabia and Iran during the knockout stage.

 

However, the K-League champions will have to reshuffle their side for Saturday as defender Cha Du-ri is suspended after picking up yellow cards in both legs of the semi-final win over Iran’s Esteghlal.

 

Furthermore, with Guangzhou scoring eight goals in their last two away games en route to the final, Kim knows his side’s record could come under its sternest examination yet as they seek an advantage ahead of the return fixture at Tianhe Stadium two weeks later.

 

“Our home record is really important. It’s definitely true that we’ve played well at our home stadium and this is why the first match of the final is so important. We must not concede a goal and also, whenever we make a chance, we have to score. The most important thing is to win without conceding a goal,” said the 29-year-old

 

“Just like other teams when they play away, it’s hard because we’re affected by different surroundings. However, we always try to get used to our surroundings when we’re away from home and the results haven’t been bad. I’m sure we can play well in the second match in China. It’s part of the final and I’m not worried.”

 

Kim started just one game during the group stage of this year’s AFC Champions League, but the left-back has missed just one match in the knockout stage as Choi Yong-soo’s side reached the final following an eight-match unbeaten streak.

 

Having helped Korea Republic qualify for next year’s FIFA World Cup earlier this year, scoring in the 1-1 draw in Lebanon, Kim is looking to continue a successful year in the AFC Champions League by extending the recent run of continental success for Korean sides.

 

“The success of Korean teams in the AFC Champions League doesn’t add any more pressure, rather it motivates me,” he said.

 

“I’m really proud K-League clubs have advanced to the finals five times in a row and won three times. I hope we can be the fourth champion and prove the K-League is the best league in Asia.

 

“As a player, it’s an honour to advance to the final in AFC Champions League. I’m really proud of my teammates. We made it together and that makes me confident.”

 

Guangzhou have also lost just once en route to the final while impressing as an attacking unit, the Chinese champions scoring 14 goals in their last four outings in the AFC Champions League after brushing aside Qatar’s Lekhwiya and Japan’s Kashiwa Reysol.

 

Muriqui is the tournament’s leading scorer with 13 goals in 12 games, while fellow South Americans Dario Conca and Elkeson have also contributed to Guangzhou’s impressive tally. Kim has cast a watchful eye over the foreign talent.

 

“Even though I know little about Guangzhou, I’ve watched their videos a few times and the three imported players are outstanding, that’s all I know,” Kim said.

 

“We have two matches and the important thing at this point is the winning spirit. Nobody knows who will win, but I think we can.

 

“Our head coach has been aiming to win the AFC Champions League from the beginning and so have all the players. He has motivated us to put in more effort and we have followed him. The only thing left is to win. We are looking forward to putting a big smile on our coach’s face in the final.”

 

2013 AFC Champions League Final

October 26: FC Seoul (KOR) v Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN), Seoul World Cup Stadium, Korea

November 9: Guangzhou Evergrande (CHN) v FC Seoul (KOR), Tianhe Sports Center, Guangzhou, China

 

For more information on this year’s AFC Champions League, visit:

www.the-afc.com/en/tournaments/clubs/afc-champions-league

www.the-afc.com/en/acl-2013-fixtures

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