Ulsan Hyundai - Sanfrecce Hiroshima Preview: Asian clubs vie for consolation after Club World Cup exits

J-League champions Sanfrecce are relishing the match and see it as a crucial test ahead of next year's Asian Champions League campaign, while Ulsan are eager to seize fifth place


Kim Youngkwang
Lee Yong, Kim Chigon, Kwak Taehwi, Lee Jaesung
Lee Ho, Estiven
Rafinha, Lee Keunho, Kim Seungyong
Kim Shinwook
Masuda (Nishikawa),
Chiba, Mizumoto, Moriwaki, Aoyama
Ko. Morisaki, Ka. Morizaki
Takahagi, Mikic, Shimizu

Defeated Asian champions Ulsan Hyundai will be hoping for a consolation win when they face Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the fifth-place decider of the 2012 Fifa Club World Cup.

The Korean side are smarting after a 3-1 loss to Monterrey in which they were dominated for most of the match. On the other side, Sanfrecce hope to end their season on a high note after poor finishing doomed the J-League champions to a 2-1 defeat by Egypt's Al-Ahly. While neither team is at 100 per cent following their respective matches, the Japan-Korea rivalry will be more than enough to inspire the players.

"[Sanfrecce's] playing style is all-or-nothing," AFC Player of the Year Lee Keun-Ho said on Monday. "They emphasise their build-up play. So we must play pressing football to interrupt their style.

"This is my last match before military service so I'm under pressure, especially because we will play against a Japanese team. But this may be a chance for me to achieve some honour."

Lee's sentiments were echoed by Sanfrecce goalkeeper Shunsaku Nishikawa, who left the quarter-final match after just three minutes of play with a deep gash to his left cheek that required eight stitches.

"I'm ready to play," the national team back-up told reporters while sporting a thick bandage on his face. "[FC Tokyo and Kashiwa Reysol] lost to Ulsan in the ACL, so we'll play as a symbol of Japanese clubs."

The match will also serve as good practice for Sanfrecce, who will compete in next year's ACL for just the second time in club history. The southern Japan side have very little experience playing international football and will be looking to test themselves against a physical Ulsan side.

"We're playing for the pride of J-League," coach Hajime Moriyasu said on Monday. "We won't forget that pride and we'll fight until the end of the competition."

  • Sanfrecce are the first J-League participants in the CWC to not reach the semi-finals.

  • The club's last competitive match against a K-League team was in 2010, when they beat Pohang Steelers 4-3 in the ACL group stage.
  • The team's purple color was chosen not only for its connection with imperial Japan, but also because of its visibility on TVs during night games.
  • Ulsan Hyundai boasts five players with J-League experience: Lee Keun-Ho, Kim Seung-Yong, Lee Seung-Yeoul, Rafinha, and Maranhao.
  • After Wednesday's match, Lee Keun-Ho, Lee Ho, and Lee Jae-Sung will leave the team to begin their mandatory military service.
  • Goalkeeper Kim Young-Kwang's three goals conceded against Monterrey were the most he has allowed past him in 2012.