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Suwon looking to grab berth in AFC Champions League knockout stage

2018/04/16 15:04

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SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korean football club Suwon Samsung Bluewings will try to grab a spot in the knockout stage at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League this week when they play their last group stage match in Japan.

Suwon, two-time continental champions, will meet Kashima Antlers at Kashima Soccer Stadium in Kashima, Japan, on Tuesday to play their final Group H match,

Only the top two teams from each group qualify for the knockout rounds of the AFC Champions League (ACL). Suwon are currently second in Group H after collecting seven points from two wins, two draws and one loss. They're two points behind Kashima, which have already clinched a knockout berth.

Suwon can finish atop the group and confirm a round of 16 berth with win over Kashima, but a draw or a loss would mean that their fate will depend on the result between Sydney FC and Shanghai Shenhua.

Sydney are currently third with five points, but since the Australians are likely to beat group-worst Shanghai at home, Suwon will need a victory against Kashima to secure their place. If Suwon earn a draw against Kashima, and Sydney defeat Shanghai, Suwon and Sydney will be tied at eight points, but the Australian side would advance to the next round, as they hold the tiebreaker.

In this file photo taken on April 3, 2018, Suwon Samsung Bluewings players celebrate after they scored a goal against Sydney FC in their AFC Champions League Group H match at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap) In this file photo taken on April 3, 2018, Suwon Samsung Bluewings players celebrate after they scored a goal against Sydney FC in their AFC Champions League Group H match at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province. (Yonhap)

Suwon have an inferior head-to-head record against Sydney in the group stage. Suwon blanked Sydney 2-0 in their first meeting in Australia, but fell 4-1 at home.

Suwon, led by head coach Seo Jung-won, collected two wins and one draw in their last three matches in the domestic K League 1. Seo's side, however, fell to Kashima 2-1 in their first encounter at home in February.

If Suwon earn a knockout stage berth, South Korea will have three clubs in the ACL round of 16. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in Group E and Ulsan Hyundai FC in Group F have confirmed their presence in the round of 16 earlier this month. Jeju United were eliminated from knockout round contention from Group G last week.

South Korea has not sent three or more K League 1 clubs to the ACL round of 16 since 2015. In 2016, Jeonbuk and FC Seoul were the only two South Korean clubs to reach the knockout stage, and last year, Jeju were the sole South Korean representative in the final 16.

Meanwhile, although they've already secured a knockout berth, Jeonbuk will try to confirm their top spot in Group E when they host Kitchee SC of Hong Kong on Wednesday. Jeonbuk are currently leaders in Group E with 12 points, but Chinese outfit Tianjin Quanjin are only two points behind them.

Jeju will try to escape from the bottom of the group when they welcome Thai powerhouses Buriram United on Tuesday. Jeju can finish third in Group G with a win over Buriram.

Ulsan will take on group worst Kawasaki Frontale in their last Group F action in Japan.

kdon@yna.co.kr

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