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Seongnam set sights on AFC Champions League final

20 October 2010 08:09

SEONGNAM, South Korea (AFP) - Seongnam Ilhwa captain Sasa Ognenovski is confident the seven-time K-League champions can beat Saudi giants Al Shabab on Wednesday to book a place in next month's AFC Champions League final in Tokyo.

Ognenovski has revenge on his mind after the first leg semi-final disappointment in Riyadh, when Seongnam -- Korea's most decorated team -- led three times before conceding two late goals to lose 4-3.

"It was disappointing to score three times and not win. I'd have been far happier with a draw," said the Australian, who played in the 2008 AFC Champions League final for Adelaide United before joining Seongnam early last year.

"It was due to some defensive mistakes, with us not picking up players, so I think we'll make it up at home. I don't think we'll make those kinds of mistakes again."

The giant centre-back, appointed club captain this season, says that after throwing away the first leg Shin Tae-Yong's men know what they need to do at home in Seongnam, a satellite city southeast of Seoul.

"Most of the team were disappointed after the first leg, but we're confident we can turn it around at home. It also helps to know we have to win, so there are no mixed messages," said the 31-year-old.

Shabab, coached by former Uruguay and Qatar boss Jorge Fossati, need a win or draw to secure a place in the final.

New Uruguayan signing Jose Manuel Olivera was the hero in the first leg with a brace, while club captain Abdoh Autef made a decisive impact as a 70th-minute substitute, helping set up the third and fourth goals.

However, the five-time Saudi champions will be missing suspended international midfielder Ahmed Ateef, Abdoh's older brother and international teammate.

Seongnam reached the AFC semis three years ago and the final in 2004, when they lost to Jeddah giants Al Ittihad over two legs.

Ognenovski is determined to lead his side to victory at the Tancheon Sports Complex and take a big stride towards his first trophy at the club.

"We're determined to win the AFC Champions League, as last year we lost in the final of the FA Cup and the final of the K-League playoffs," he said.

"I also have a strong personal ambition as I lost in the final of the 2008 AFC Champions League with Adelaide, so it would be great for the team and me personally to win this year."

In Wednesday's other semi-final Saudi champions Al Hilal will host Zobahan, two weeks after the Iranian league leaders won 1-0 in Esfahan.

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