AFC Champions League
- Persepolis and Ulsan Hyundai in AFC Champions League final
- Iranian club to play second final in three years
- Sacred in 2012, Ulsan Hyundai aims for a second crown
Saturday in Al Wakrah, the AFC Champions League will know the name of its new king. Three-time reigning Iranian champion, Persepolis will face South Korean club Ulsan Hyundai, Asian champion in 2012. In addition, the winner will secure a ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020 ™ . Between redemption for some and possible second coronation for others, FIFA.com presents you the final shock of the most prestigious of Asian competitions.
Persépolis – Ulsan Hyundai
December 19, Al Janoub Stadium (3:00 p.m. local time | 1:00 p.m. CET)
Persepolis players intend to erase their terrible disillusionment in the final of the 2018 edition, lost 2-0 in the best of two sets against the Kashima Antlers. This time around, the three-time reigning Iranian champions hope to confirm their national dominance on the mainland.
But the task will not be easy for Yahya Golmohammadi’s troops. Already crowned in 2012 after a 3-0 victory against Al Ahli, their opponents are regulars of the tournament.
The route to the final
The story started badly for the Persepolis players, who took only one small point in their first two outings, before the competition was stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But when matches resumed in September in Qatar, theArmy Rouge won three of his next four matches to finish first in Group C and thus validate his ticket to the knockout stage.
The Iranians then defeated Al Sadd and Pakhtakor in the knockout stages and quarter-finals. In the last four, after holding Al Nassr in check until overtime (1-1), the Persepolis players finally gained the upper hand over one of the main favorites for the title after a thrilling session of shots on goal (5-3).
For his part, Ulsan has had an impeccable campaign so far. The South Korean team took first place in Group F with five wins, one draw and fourteen goals on the clock. The two-time defending Korea Republic champions confirmed their excellent momentum against Melbourne Victory in the round of 16 by winning 3-0.
In the next round, Kim Do-hoon’s men sidelined the Chinese Beijing Guoan with a brace from the Brazilian Júnior Negrão, before defeating Vissel Kobe and his star Andrés Iniesta (2-1, ap) to climb in the final of the competition for the second time in their history.
The forces involved
More than a sum of individuals, the ogre of Tehran is above all a collective. The twelve goals scored so far are also the work of six different players. The Iranian team will also be able to rely on its goalkeeper Hamed Lak, undefeated five times in seven starts. In midfield, coach Golmohammadi will articulate his device around Bashar Rasan.
Ulsan’s team will rely on their dangerous attack, led by the Brazilian Júnior Negrão and the Norwegian Bjørn Johnsen, authors of five achievements each in this event, or nearly half of the team’s goals. Kim Do-hoon’s men will also be able to share their experience.
In addition to the many players in the Republic of Korea’s squad, Ulsan will be able to count on his midfielder Yoon Bit-garam, formidable during the set pieces, as well as his seasoned captain Lee Keun-ho, the only member of the group to have participated in the continental triumph eight years earlier.