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Bragging rights on the line in Asian Club World Cup showdown
Published : 10 Dec 2012 08:17:00
Asian bragging rights will be at stake when South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai face Japan's Sanfrecce Hiroshima in a potentially feisty Club World Cup clash on Wednesday.
The prize for the winners of the match between AFC Champions League holders Ulsan and the J-League winners in Toyota will be fifth place at the intercontinental tournament after their quarter-final defeats on Sunday.
"There's a big rivalry here and we want to show that Japan's football is better than Korea's," Hiroshima winger Mihael Mikic said.
"We play good football and they (Ulsan) play physical, even a little dirty," the former Croatia youth international added, adding some spice to the build-up to the game.
The match comes after tensions surfaced between the national teams of the two countries, giants of Asian football, at the London Olympics.
Last week FIFA suspended South Korean's Park Jong-Woo for two international matches over a post-match political gesture at the Games.
Park, who was also fined, had been excluded from the awards ceremony for his country's bronze medal win in August after he held up a sign reading "Dokdo is our land" while celebrating the Korean team's 2-0 victory over Japan.
The Seoul-controlled islands, known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan, are the subject of a decades-old territorial dispute.
On Sunday, Ulsan lost 3-1 to CONCACAF winners Monterrey from Mexico in the Club World Cup quarter-finals and Hiroshima crashed out 2-1 to African champions Al Ahly of Egypt.
The defeats meant the teams lost out on mouthwatering last-four ties against European champions Chelsea and star Brazilian team Corinthians.
Ulsan centre-forward Kim Shin-Wook said the bitter loss, in which Asian player of the year Lee Keun-Ho grabbed the team's consolation goal, made the players even more determined to beat their Japanese rivals.
"We will push forward, we will give everything we can to score," he said.
Ulsan coach Kim Ho-Gon, named coach of the year in Asia at an awards ceremony last month, said the match offered the team a chance to make amends.
"We would like to improve ourselves and demonstrate to the world Asian football," he said.
The match will give Hiroshima a taste of what to expect in next season's AFC Champions League, for which Ulsan failed to qualify.
"With regards to the Asian Champions League the next match will serve as a good simulation for us," Hajime Moriyasu, the Hiroshima coach, said.