We are at the halfway stage of the ACL and all four Korean teams have played 3 matches. Which ones have had the start dreams are made of and which ones need to wake up and sort themselves out as soon as possible.
|JEONBUK HYUNDAI MOTORS (KOR)||3||2||1||0||7||1||6||7|
|KASHIWA REYSOL (JPN)||3||2||1||0||7||2||5||7|
|SHANDONG LUNENG FC (CHN)||3||1||0||2||5||8||-3||3|
|BINH DUONG (VIE)||3||0||0||3||3||11||-8||0|
After a shaky opening at home to Kashiwa Reysol, Jeonbuk have responded with two fantastic victories notching up 7 goals along the way. When the group stage was drawn Jeonbuk had by far the easiest of the groups handed to Korean teams so it isn’t exactly surprising that they sit atop the pile. But it’s not so much their position in the table that has impressed as much as the manner in which they have gone about their business. Sure they started with a 0-0 at home to Kashiwa but in all honestly that was as much down to some ‘interesting’ calls from the men in black as anything Kashiwa brought to the table. Since that opening match they have run out 4-1 victors in China followed by a 3-0 home victory over the whipping boys of the group Binh Duong. With their next game an away against Binh Duong in Vietnam followed by a trip to Japan and a final home match with Shandong it would take something exceptional from the other teams to stop them being in the next round.
|BURIRAM UNITED (THA)||3||2||1||0||5||3||2||7|
|SEONGNAM FC (KOR)||3||2||0||1||4||2||2||6|
|GUANGZHOU R&F (CHN)||3||1||0||2||3||3||0||3|
|GAMBA OSAKA (JPN)||3||0||1||2||1||5||-4||1|
Seongnam like Jeonbuk didn’t have the best of openings to their ACL adventure. They lost 2-1 away to Thai champions in a match that earned them criticism from the media and fans alike. Most criticism was laid at the door of the defence who had defended like they had just met each other for the first time. Next up they faced off against Japanese champions Gamba Osaka at”Fortress Tancheon”. Few in attendance that night expected such a resounding victory as Kim Hak Bum got his tactics spot on. If the match against the Japanese was unexpected their victory in China over Guangzhou R&F was something amazing. Pre-match predictions suggested that the Chinese would have too much for Kim’s boys. That thought was given added fuel when they turned up for training to be met with an unplayable training surface. With little real preparation before the match the odds were stacked against them, but then again they do have Hwang Uijo to balance those odds. Another ACL start and another wonder goal from Hwang set Seongnam on their way to all 3pts. They now sit 3 clear of Guangzhou with two back to back home matches to come. If they can keep their wits about them and keep the “fortress” fortified then you would have to imagine they’ll be home and dry before the fans board their flights to Osaka early May.
|BEIJING GUOAN (CHN)||3||3||0||0||4||0||4||9|
|SUWON SAMSUNG FC (KOR)||3||1||1||1||5||5||0||4|
|BRISBANE ROAR (AUS)||3||1||1||1||4||4||0||4|
|URAWA RED DIAMONDS (JPN)||3||0||0||3||1||5||-4||0|
Suwon’s return to the Champions League was always going to excite their fans but when they were thrown together with ex-FC Seoul idol Dejan Damjanovic it was escalated beyond just an ACL campaign. Add in A-League champions Brisbane Roar and the infamous Urawa Reds and we were surely in for a roller coaster of a group. Suwon opened their journey with a comeback victory against Urawa, as famous for a banner in the Suwon end as for the quality on the pitch. Next up they had the short trip to Bejing to lock horns once again with Dejan. Unfortunately for Suwon the Montenegrin would emerge victor and in the process score the only goal of the match. After the disappoint of Bejing they traveled to Brisbane for what would become the match of the tournament so far. 2-0 down early in the first half they battled back again to take a 3-2 lead. With 10 mins left Brisbane scored the final goal of the match to level it at 3-3 and set up a mouthwatering match back at The Big Bird in a couple of weeks time. A trip to Japan against a struggling Urawa follows that game with a final showdown against a Bejing team that should already be in the next round. A victory at home to Brisbane and avoid defeat at Urawa should probably see them in the next round.
|GUANGZHOU EVERGRANDE (CHN)||3||3||0||0||8||5||3||9|
|WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS (AUS)||3||1||1||1||5||4||1||4|
|FC SEOUL (KOR)||3||1||1||1||1||1||0||4|
|KASHIMA ANTLERS (JPN)||3||0||0||3||4||8||-4||0|
When the group stages were drawn Seoul could have been forgiven for staring down the draw representatives. Not only had they been paired with the team that knocked them out at the semi final stage last year they also had the luxury of facing up to the team that defeated them in the final in 2013. Throw in Kashima Antlers for good measure and this was surely the dreaded ‘group of death’. The first match saw them travel to China to face an Evergrande team that boasted new signing Alan who was the Europa League’s top scorer when he made the move East. Despite a battling display they ended up with a 1-0 defeat. A home victory against Kashima Antlers followed though and with it some hope that Seoul had kick-started their campaign unfortunately this hope lasted all of one game and after a goalless and pretty much action-less 0-0 home draw against Western Sydney Wanderers they find themselves in a pretty precarious position. An away match against WSW followed by Evergrande at home must result in a minimum of 4 pts for Seoul otherwise they will be looking for others to help them out to keep their dreams alive.