An engrossing first leg at Jeonju World Cup Stadium last weekend ended in a 2-1 victory for the hosts, with danger man Leonardo striking twice in response to Colombian winger Danilo Asprilla’s half-volleyed opener past the hour mark.
This has left the tie delicately poised, as both sides pursue their second-ever continental trophy.
‘Amoory’ has been central to the Boss’ progression to this point, a remarkable eight man-of-the-matches being picked up in 13 games to leave him poised to collect the prestigious AFC Player of the Year gong next week.
He was determined to excel again on Asia’s grandest stage and end a drought stretching back to the inaugural running in 2002/03.
“The first game was a big match and this is the game of my life, especially as it is in our Hazza bin Zayed Stadium,” said the 25-year-old, flanked by coach Zlatko Dalic and the ACL trophy in the resplendent Chairman’s Lounge.
“The first loss wasn’t bad, as we played well. All throughout this game we will do all we can to win in order to please the sheikhs, the fans and all people in the UAE.
“Of course, everybody knows the history of Al Ain and all the big names who played for the team in 2003. We want to achieve glory and we will fight to do all our best to win the trophy.”
Meanwhile, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors coach Choi Kang-hee has declared he has no “final phobia” despite recurring memories of the club’s 2011 failure being unavoidable.
The 2006 winner has been preparing his squad at Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace this week after a disagreement about training facilities in the host city.
A recurring theme before both matches has been the painful penalty shootout defeat against Qatar’s Al Sadd five years ago when he was last in the showpiece. Choi was confident there would be a different outcome this time.
“Many things changed for this year,” said the typically-taciturn supremo. “It will be a home and away match, totally different to the 2011 final.
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