Four draws for four S. Korean clubs at Asian Champions League football
Published : 2013-03-14 09:22
Updated : 2013-03-14 09:22
Four South Korean representatives at the top Asian club football tournament couldn't buy a victory this week, as all four of their matches ended in draws.
In the second week of the 2013 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League, Pohang Steelers of the K League Classic gave up a last-minute equalizer against their Group G rival Bunyodkor in Uzbekistan and walked away with a 2-2 draw on Wednesday.
Suwon Samsung Bluewings played Guizhou Renhe of China to a scoreless draw in their Group H contest Wednesday.
On Tuesday, there were two more draws for K League Classic clubs. FC Seoul and Buriram United of Thailand ended their Group E match 0-0, while Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors couldn't hold on to an early lead and drew Guangzhou Evergrande of China 1-1 in Group F action.
Teams need to finish among the top two in their groups to reach the round of 16. The group stage concludes in May.
The Steelers came the closest to a victory this week. But substitute Kamoliddin Murzoev scored on the last kick of the game to salvage a draw for Bunyodkor.
Oleksandr Pyshur scored his second goal of this year's Champions League to put the home side ahead in the first half, but Pohang responded with two second-half goals, first by Lee Myung-joo and then Lee Gwang-hun.
Murzoev, though, found the net in injury time, as Bunyodkor rose to the top of Group G with four points. Pohang, which also drew the opening game two weeks ago, is in third place.
This year, Pohang is the only K League Classic club without a foreign player, which is unusual in a league where teams depend heavily on import players' offensive production. Pohang took mostly young reserve players to Uzbekistan while the usual starting members stayed home to prepare for the domestic league play this Sunday.
Head coach Hwang Sun-hong said he was impressed with the play of his young guns, saying they are the "future" of Pohang.
"We played away from home and were able to pick up one point, and I think that is a good result," he said. "I know there have been concerns about (our lack of depth), but I have complete trust in my players."
Hwang said a botched defensive assignment on Bunyodkor's equalizer was the difference and lamented his players' lack of experience in the AFC tournament.
Pohang's next game is on the road against Sanfrecce Hiroshima of Japan on April 2.
Also on Wednesday, Suwon had its second straight draw at the Champions League, as Guizhou, playing in the AFC tournament for the first time, earned its first point.
Suwon couldn't solve Guizhou's defense and was held to firing long-range shots that were easily stopped by goalkeeper Zhang Lie.
The South Korean side was without Jong Tae-se, a major offseason acquisition, as the North Korean striker nursed a thigh injury. Afterward, Suwon's head coach, Seo Jung-won, didn't conceal his disappointment.
"I wanted to get the win and three points at home," he said.
"But we have four games left (in the group stage). This game was a good learning experience facing such a strong defense, because our future opponents will probably play a similarly defensive game against us."
Suwon next plays Kashiwa Reysol of Japan on April 3 at home.
Kashiwa leads Group H with six points, and Suwon is in second with two points.
On Tuesday, FC Seoul only managed a scoreless draw on the road against Buriram United of Thailand. The reigning South Korean league champion, though, remained undefeated after two games and sits in first place in Group E with four points.
FC Seoul hit a goal post once in the first half but otherwise didn't threaten the Buriram net. Choi Yong-soo, FC Seoul's head coach, said he's happy to take draws in away games.
"Scoreless matches happen all the time in football, and I don't think this is a disappointing result for us," he said. "We didn't give up any goals in tough situations. In hot and humid conditions, our players gave their all."
FC Seoul will next play Vegalta Sendai of Japan at home on April 2.
In Group F on Tuesday, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors drew Guangzhou Evergrande of China 1-1 at home. At last year's Champions League, Jeonbuk suffered a 5-1 defeat against the same Guangzhou club at home in the group stage. Jeonbuk failed to make it to the round of 16, a year after reaching the Champions League final.
Jeonbuk couldn't avenge the earlier loss. Midfielder Kim Jung-woo gave the home club the lead in the 27th minute with a sharp-angle shot from the edge of the box. But Muriqui evened the score for Guangzhou in the 64th minute on a breakaway.
The second straight draw kept Jeonbuk in third place in Group F with two points, while Guangzhou leads the pack with four points.
Jeonbuk's next match is against Urawa Red Diamonds in Japan on April 3. (Yonhap News)