Wednesday's AFC Champions League Round of 16 preview: Two Japanese dates in Korea

The seven-time J-League champions look to amend their poor knockout phase record in the Korean capital, while more Saudi Arabian clubs chase a spot in the final eight

(all fixtures in Japanese Standard Time)
19:30 FC Seoul - Kashima Antlers
19:30 Suwon Bluewings - Nagoya Grampus
23:45 Zob Ahan - Al Nasr
01:00 (Thurs JST) Al Sadd - Al Shabab

FC Seoul - Kashima Antlers

  • The Korean capital club head into this game fresh from a shock 2-0 home defeat from Daegu FC which ended a run of three consecutive league wins. Seoul's recent good form had coincided with Choi Yong-Soo taking over as caretaker manager

  • Kashima blew a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with struggling Urawa Red Diamonds on Saturday, leaving the Antlers down in 15th spot on the J-League table

  • Seoul were beaten at home in the group stage by J-League opponents Nagoya Grampus, while in their previous campaign in 2009 they also lost at home to Japanese side Gamba Osaka

  • The seven-time J-League champions have incredibly never progressed beyond the first knockout phase of the ACL, with their past two campaigns ending at the hands of Korean opposition, Pohang Steelers in 2010 and Seoul in 2009


FC Seoul

Midfielder Ha Dae-Sung and striker Lee Seung-Yeoul were absent in the shock loss to Daegu due to injuries. Ko Yo-Han also missed the weekend's K-League game due to suspension but will be available to return in the ACL.

Kashima Antlers

There's few concerns for Oswaldo Oliveira who essentially has a full-strength squad to choose from. Skipper Mitsuo Ogasawara was rested on the weekend, while Alex made his return from injury at full-back and will be available.

 Suwon Bluewings - Nagoya Grampus

  • Suwon slumped to their third home defeat of the season on Saturday, crumbling with two second-half red cards as they went down 2-1 to Busan I'Park

  • Bluewings are winless in their past five matches in the K-League but have won their past two in the ACL

  • The injury-hit J-League champions drew 0-0 with early leaders Kashiwa Reysol on Saturday and now sit 12th, having failed to win in their past three league matches

  • These two sides met at this same stage two years ago but in Japan, with Grampus winning 2-1 thanks to goals from Yoshizumi Ogawa and Keiji Tamada


Suwon Bluewings

Ha Tae-Gyun, the topscorer in the ACL this year, missed training earlier in the week and faces a fitness test, which might open the door for Uzbek international Alexander Geynrikh who made an impact off the bench on Saturday against Busan. Ex-Chunnam Dragons defender Yang Sang-Min hobbled off injured in the home loss to I'Park and is in doubt too.

Nagoya Grampus

The news only gets worse for Dragan Stojkovic's injury-hit side with defender Mitsuru Chiyotanda sustaining a knock in the weekend's draw with Kashiwa, while Makita Yoshida suffered a head injury. The good news is Marcus Tulio Tanaka and Joshua Kennedy should be available after injuries but Igor Burzanovic, Keiji Yoshimura, Mu Kanazaki and Takahiro Masukawa are out. Tatsuya Arai may be given a chance in defence.

  Zob Ahan - Al Nassr

"We are not afraid of them because we play much better if our opponents are stronger and play better.”

- Al Nassr boss Dragan Skocic

  • Zob Ahan concluded their domestic leagues commitments with two wins to finish in third spot but prior to that they went down 1-0 to Saudi Arabian club Al Shabab in their final ACL group game

  • The Iranians won every home game in their run to the ACL final last year, including victories over Saudi Arabian giants Al Hilal and Al Ittihad

  • Dragan Skocic's Al Nassr finished off their league campaign last weekend with a poor 5-2 loss to Al Ittihad. The result made it three losses from their final four league games.

  • This campaign is Al Nassr's first in the top continental competition since winning the 1998 Asian Super Cup which qualified them for the 2000 Fifa Club World Championship


Zob Ahan

Defender Hossein Mahini is suspended for the Iranian club after picking up another booking in the final group game against Al Shabab.

Al Nassr

Kuwaiti forward Bader Al Mutwa has been dangerous in the ACL with four strikes so far in the competition.

  Al Sadd - Al Shabab
  • Qatar's sole representative in the Round of 16 completed their domestic league duties over a month ago and should be well rested after being eliminated from the Emir of Prince Cup in early May

  • Al Shabab finished of their Professional League campaign on Friday with a 1-0 win at Al Faisaly earning them a fourth-place finish and seeing them unbeaten in their past six games in all competitions

  • Al Sadd incredibly only won two games to top Group B, but both those wins came at home, one against Saudi Arabian opposition in Al Nasr

  • The White Lions are an emerging ACL contender after reaching the semi-finals last year along with a Round of 16 finish in 2009


Al Sadd

Teenage defender Abdulkarim Hassan received a timely boost ahead of the Round of 16 clash, winning the Qatar Stars League best Under-18 player award.

Al Shabab

Saudi Arabia international Nasser Al Shamrani is the White Lions outstanding player and he's been in form scoring five goals in their past six matches.

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