South Korea’s Al Hilal and Pohang Steelers will meet tomorrow Tuesday at King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh in the AFC Champions League final, and both are looking to make history by winning a fourth title. record in continental competition.
The Saudi giant won the continental title three times in 1991, 2000 and 2019, while the Korean team won this honor in 1997, 1998 and 2009, knowing that the winner among them will participate in the World Cup for club to be held in the United Arab Emirates in advance next year.
Both teams have overtaken a local rival in semifinal, while Al Hilal beat his traditional rival in the capital, Al Nasr, 2-1, while Pohang stripped his compatriot Ulsan Hyundai of the title by winning 5-4 on penalties.
Al Hilal, who hasn’t lost any games in this season, it is in an ideal state of stability at all levels, and all of its key players are currently in excellent shape, in particularly the internationals, who contributed to the first place of the Saudi green team in the decisive round of the World Cup qualifiers.
What increases Al Hilal’s chances of winning the title is the return of his injured players who are heavy in his composition, in in particular Yasser Al Shahrani and the Korean Jang Hyun-soo, and before them the Malian Moussa Mariga.
French striker Al Hilal Bafetimbi Gomez, who scored 6 goals in the current version, told the media: “I have won many titles and scored many goals, but winning the AFC Champions League remains the most important . This is the best title I have won, and the best moment of my career.”
“We have a lot of experience, because many players are playing the final with the team for the third time. This is very important, because things are different if they are playing the final for the first time, but that doesn’t mean we will take the game lightly. the comparison will be very difficult “. We have a lot of respect for the Korean team, because of its presence in final is proof that he deserves it. “
As for the Pohang, despite its location in late in the Korean League, is considered one of the club stronger in Asia, and its arrival in final is the confirmation. But his task will not be easy in front of a team that plays in home and among its fans, as about 68 thousand spectators will attend the match.
Korean team manager Kim Ji-dong confirmed that his team will not be affected by the atmosphere that favors the hosts, and said: “We will wear the jersey of the home team. club with pride, and we will treat the fans present at the stadium as our fans and we will enjoy playing the final. “
Kim added: “This is the first time we have returned to the tournament since 2016, and our fans are hungry to see us play and we have managed to overcome some tough challenges to reach the final, and we want to put the final touch to present a great gift to the players. our fans “.
Interestingly, Kim was a member of her team when she won the title in 2009.
Pohang’s Australian Alexander Grant talked about playing the game in front of an audience that will be completely supportive of Al Hilal, saying: “We will try to contain this. If we can get the carpet out from under their feet, the experience it will be great. I can’t wait to play the match and to play in front of full stands, especially with the procedures that accompanied the matches. ” Over the past two years due to Covid.
It was not easy for Al Hilal to reach the final, but some obstacles met his path: in the group stage, he qualified as the best three seconds in the five groups, as he finished second in the first group he hosted. in Riyadh. In the final price, Esteghlal overcame Iran 2-0, before overtaking Iran’s Persepolis in the quarter-finals 3-0, and in semifinal, he collided with his neighbor Al Nasr and beat him 2-1.
Pohang’s qualification was similar to his host, as he passed the group stage as the best three seconds in the five East Continent groups. In the quarter-finals, Cerezo beat Japan’s Osaka 1-0, and in the quarter-finals he swept via Japan’s Nagoya Grampus 3-0, e in semifinal overcame his compatriot Ulsan Hyundai on penalties.
Al Hilal has a selection of star internationals, such as Muhammad Al-Buraik, Salman Al-Faraj, Salem Al-Dossary, Muhammad Kanoo, Saleh Al-Shehri and Nasser Al-Dosari together with Gomes and the Brazilian Mateos Pereira, while Pohang, Min Stand Kwang-gyun, Shin Jin -ho, William Sang-hyeop and Songmo Lee together with the Australian Alexander Grant and the Colombian Manuel Palacios.
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