‘Hyundai Ga Derby’

Ulsan HD will clash with rival Jeonbuk Hyundai on the Asian stage.

Ulsan will play the first leg of the 2023-2024 quarterfinals against Jeonbuk at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium at 7 p.m. on the 5th.

It is the first half of the 180 minutes. Ulsan needs to gain the upper hand in this away match in Jeonju to lead the upcoming home game (Moonsoo Football Stadium at 7 p.m. on June 12).

Ulsan aims to win the ALC title for the first time in four years since 2020. In the last-16 match, it secured victory in both matches with a combined score of 5-1 (3-0 in the first match, 2-1 in the second match) against Banpo Re Gofu, and successfully advanced to the quarterfinals. Joo Min-kyu scored three goals in two matches, qualifying as the top scorer in the K-League 1 last season.

Ulsan has caught on. At the opening match of the K-League 1 home against the Pohang Steelers on March 1, Ulsan won 1-0 thanks to Ataru Esaka’s finishing goal in the sixth minute of the second half.

Ulsan is committed to continuing its momentum to win three consecutive matches in Jeonbuk. Ulsan and Jeonbuk will have three showdowns this month alone, including two matches in the quarterfinals of the ALC and an away match in the fourth round of the K League 1 on March 30. Ulsan can turn on the green light to claim the title in both the ACL and the league if it completes the first step well following the league.

Ulsan has continued its dominant record against Jeonbuk since Hong Myung-bo took the helm. Based on the league standard, it tied the game with one win, two draws, and one loss in the 2021 season, but it dominated the game with two wins, one draw and one loss in the 2022 season and three wins and one loss in the 2023 season. In particular, Seol Young-woo’s winning goal in the final home match against Jeonbuk, which was held after his fourth win in the league was confirmed on December 3 last year, sealed a spectacular 1-0 finale. In past league records, Ulsan leads Jeonbuk with 42 wins, 29 draws, and 41 losses in 112 matches.

Ulsan’s most recent showdown with Jeonbuk in the ALC was at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium on October 17, 2021. After 120 minutes of hard work in the quarterfinals, which was a one-game match at the time, Lee Dong-kyung’s fantastic mid-range shot in the 11th minute of extra time gave the team a 3-2 victory.

There is one more reason why this quarterfinal match is particularly important for both teams. It is because of the expanded qualification for the FIFA Club World Cup. At the Club World Cup to be held in 2025, the number of participating teams will be expanded from seven to 32 teams. All the teams that have advanced to the Continental Cup are more eager than ever to win, as they are mentioned not only for the honor of competing with the world’s best team but also for the huge amount of participation in the tournament. Four tickets have been allocated to the AFC Club World Cup, and the winners of the past two years, Al Hilal SFC (Saudi Arabia) and Urawa Red Diamonds (Japan), have already won the berth.

The remaining two tickets will be distributed according to performance in the ACL, the cup competition of the Continental League. Currently, various teams are competing for the remaining two tickets. Competitors Kawasaki Frontale of Japan and Pohang Steelers were eliminated from the round of 16, and Jeonbuk is eight points ahead of Ulsan with a total of 79 points, which is the most advantageous situation to qualify. However, since three points will be awarded for victory, one point for draw and three points will be given for advance to the next round, the team that will advance to the Club World Cup will be determined depending on the result of the quarterfinal match. In fact, the quarterfinal match between Ulsan and Jeonbuk will be a match that will determine the owner of one of the four remaining tickets allocated to AFC.

Ulsan’s team is preparing carefully ahead of tomorrow’s game. At a press conference after the second match against Banpo-le Gofu in February, Coach Hong Myung-bo said, “We are all predicting how Jeonbuk will prepare. We will make more preparations accordingly,” hinting at his commitment to victory.

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