TOKYO (AFP) - Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia take on Pohang Steelers of South Korea in the AFC Champions League final this weekend with both sides aiming for a record third continental championship.
In Saturday's match, the Saudi giants, who defeated Japan's Nagoya Grampus 8-3 on aggregate in the semi-finals, will have a chance to regain the AFC Champions League title they won in 2004 and 2005.
The Korean powerhouses, who beat Umm-Salal of Qatar 4-1 on aggregate in their semi-final clash, won the former Asian Club Championship in 1997 and 1998.
"Before every match, the chance to win is 50-50 for each team, so I can't say who will win," said Al Ittihad coach Gabriel Calderon, a former Argentine international.
"But we always play for a win and we will do so again in the final. We have a good team and that's why we are now in the final," he added.
Al Ittihad's Tunisian striker Amine Chermiti, 21, has scored in his past three Champions League games since arriving on loan from Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin in August.
The attacking threat also comes from Moroccan forward Hicham Aboucherouane, who finished as the Saudi league's joint top scorer last season and has been the club's top scorer in the Champions League with five goals.
Skipper Mohammed Noor, who scored a hat-trick in the first leg against Nagoya in Jeddah, is expected to pull the strings behind them.
"The final is going to be great as we are going to face a good team similar to ours," said Pohang's Brazilian coach Sergio Farias, who led Brazil to the quarter-finals of the 2001 under-17 World Cup.
"We are playing the final as a representative of the K-League. This is the biggest motivation that we need. Al Ittihad are not easy opponents but at the same time I don't think they feel we are such an easy side to beat either."
Farias is expected to use a 4-3-3 formation with Macedonia striker Stevica Ristic flanked by the Brazilian Denilson and Noh Byung-Joon in a three-pronged attack.
The 27-year-old Ristic has scored three goals in his past four Champions League games, while Denilson, the team's top scorer in the K-League, has netted seven times in the Champions League.
Noh has scored three times in this season's competition and Kim Jae-Sung, an attacking midfielder, has four goals.
Al Ittihad, who defeated two Korean teams on their way to their 2004 victory, won the 2008-2009 Saudi Pro League.
Pohang have won the league cup and finished second in the K-League to book a place in the final stages of the play-offs.
The one-leg final at the National Stadium will kick off at 7:00 pm local time (1000 GMT), with the teams vying for the winner's prize of 1.5 million dollars. The runners-up will receive 750,000 dollars.
|Hamad Al Montashari|
|Saleh Al Saqri|
|Obaid Al Shamrani|
|Mohammed Noor||50' 74'|
|Coach: G. Calderón|
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