Shandong Luneng coach Cuca has used his pre-match press conference to heap praise on Jeonbuk Hyundai ahead of their Group E clash in Jinan on Tuesday night.
The Chinese survived a scare in Vietnam, eventually overcoming a dogged Binh Duong outfit 3-2, while Jeonbuk had to settle for a point in a 0-0 draw with Kashiwa Reysol. Cuca, however, says that result doesn’t truly reflect Jeonbuk’s dominance in that match.
“In the last round of games Jeonbuk deserved a big win against Kashiwa,” he said. “The result didn’t reflect the real quality, Jeonbuk could have won two-nil or four-nil.”
His praise didn’t stop there however, with the 51-year-old declaring that Jeonbuk’s style is his personal favourite.
“They play fast football, have a tall centre forward and a good line-up including outstanding foreign players,” the former manager of Brazilian giants Atletico Mineiro, Cruzeiro, Fluminense and Flamengo said.
“It’s going to be a very tough game for us. I have to say, after seeing so many teams play, Jeonbuk’s style is my favourite in East Asia.”
A second win in two matches would be a big boost for Shandong in their attempts to make it past the group stage for the first time since 2005 when they reached the Quarter Finals.
As for Jeonbuk, conventional wisdom says teams need to win their home games and pick up a few points on the road to ensure progression to the Round of 16. After drawing blanks last week, coach Choi Kang-hee is aware of the importance of this match for that very reason.
“In the AFC Champions League you have to win at home and then not give the opponent three points when you’re playing away,” said last year’s K League Classic Manager of the Year.
“We failed to achieve what we wanted in the last game, so this time we have to win. Shandong are a threat on the wings and we cannot afford to let them score first, so we must be very careful.”