Hyundai A-League clubs’ ACL preview

The Asian Champions League is back this week – with the best from the J-League and K-League meeting Roar, Wanderers and the Reds.

Here’s all you need to know about Australian teams’ opponents courtesy of Asian football expert, @JohnnyDuerden.


Tuesday night 

It has been a disastrous campaign for FC Seoul, a team that regularly reaches the latter stages of the ACL. 

Not this time though unless there is a miraculous turnaround. 

Three losses from the first three games means that even winning the remaining trio of matches may well not be enough.

While domestic form is better, it has still been up and down in the K-League so far this season. 

There have been two wins, two draws and a defeat. The latest was a 0-0 draw at home to Jeju United, a game that had coach Hwang Sun-hong lamenting his team’s inability to find the net.

Wanderers players celebrate Terry Antonis converting a penalty against FC Seoul in the ACL.

Any Wanderers scouts at Seoul World Cup Stadium will have learned that the host lacks a cutting edge, if they did not know before, but not much more than that.

Coach Hwang told reporters after the game that there would be major changes for the long trip to Australia ahead of Tuesday night’s game at Campbelltown.  

“It is clear that this is an important game but we will not be at 100% for it,” he said. 

“I am thinking that we will change between three and seven players from the last game.”

Click here for the Wanderers’ official website


Tuesday night 

Adelaide fans still have warm memories of that thrilling 3-3 draw at the Hindmarsh Stadium in March. 

Jeju took the lead twice in the last 20 minutes but both times was pegged back within seconds by the host.

Jeju drew at Seoul on Saturday and stays top of the league after five games, above Jeonbuk Motors on goal difference. 

But the domestic side of Jeju has been built on a solid defence. They have conceded just one goal and scored just seven.

“I am satisfied with the point at Seoul,” said Jeju coach Cho Sung-hwan.

Adelaide United celebrate scoring against Jeju United in the ACL on Wednesday night.

“The next thing for us to do is to prepare for Adelaide. We were frustrated not to take three points in Australia and I think we lost concentration at important points of the game.”

While leader Jiangsu Suning has maximum points from three games and could, if results go its way, secure a first-ever place in the knockout stage, it is tight elsewhere.

Jeju is in second with four, one ahead of Gamba Osaka and three above Adelaide. A win for the South Australians on Tuesday could put them second. A win for the South Koreans could put them clear of third.

“We are expecting a tough game,” said Cho. “Apart from the game, we have defended quite well this season and we will try and continue the hard-work we have been doing.”

An interesting sub-plot will be the return of Kim Jae-sung, a former Jeju player who knows the island well. 

Click here for Adelaide’s official website


Wednesday night

The season has been going pretty well for the defending Japanese champion. 

The Antlers sit in third in the J.League though last weekend saw a run of four successive wins ended by the in-form Cerezo Osaka.

Internationally, Kashima tops the group though has lost its only away game so far in the group, at Muangthong United of Thailand. 

The team has historically underperformed in Asia and there is a feeling that this could be the year that the record will change.

A win in Queensland will put the Ibaraki team into a commanding position in Group E. It is sure to be a tough trip but this is a team that has conceded just six goals in nine games this season at home and in Asia.

The central defensive partnership of Gen Shoji and Naomichi Ueda has been excellent and the two have a real understanding.

Kashima Antlers' Yasushi Endo tries to evade Brisbane Roar's defence in the ACL on Tuesday night.

The introduction of Kwoun Sun-tae in goal, the Korea Republic shot-stopper who won the 2016 AFC Champions League title with Jeonbuk Motors, has only strengthened the backline further.

The 3-0 win over Brisbane in March was the team’s biggest win this season though the goals aren’t flowing as much as fans would like. 

Take a 3-2 win over Shimizu S-Pulse out of the equation and Kashima has managed just three in the other five games in the league.

Coach Masatada Ishii is looking forward to the challenge in the Queensland capital on Wednesday night. 

“There is still a long way to go in the group and we have to stay focused. We know that Brisbane will be tough at home and we will have to be at our best,” he said.

Click here for Roar’s official website