Scandal-hit Jeonbuk looking for redemption in Asian final

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) " Scandal-hit Jeonbuk Motors of South Korea is looking to end a troubled year on a high by defeating Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates in the Asian Champions League final, the first leg of which takes place on Saturday at Jeonju World Cup Stadium.

Jeonbuk, winner of the tournament in 2006, missed out on a third successive K-League title earlier in November, by losing the final game of the season to closest challenger FC Seoul.

Jeonbuk had been 14 points clear with six games remaining before being docked nine points by league authorities in September after a club scout was found guilty of bribing referees in 2013.

"We are sorry to the fans for not winning the K-League title," said Jeonbuk striker Lee Dong-gook, the record goalscorer in the history of the Asian Champions League with 32.

"We have an opportunity to end the year on a high and will do whatever we can to win," the 37 year-old added. "As a Korean player, I have won league titles but this could be my last opportunity to win this."

As well as lifting the trophy in 2006, Jeonbuk, who has played more games in the tournament than any other club, lost the 2011 final to Al Sadd of Qatar in a penalty shootout.

"We have very painful memories of that game," said Jeonbuk goalkeeper Kwon Sun-tae. "We want to erase them by winning the trophy this time, this is our target now."

After knocking out Sven Goran Eriksson's Shanghai SIPG in the quarterfinal and domestic rival Seoul in the semifinal, Jeonbuk will be facing an opponent from the western half of the confederation for the first time this season.

Al Ain, winner of the inaugural Asian Champions League in 2003, has also lost a final, to Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia in 2005.

The 12-time UAE champion, nicknamed 'The Boss', boasts one of Asia's biggest stars in Oman Abdulrahman. The play-maker has been linked with a number of Europe's biggest clubs including Manchester City and Arsenal of the English Premier League and Spain's Barcelona.

Abdulrahman was in action for the UAE in its win over Iraq in qualification for the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday and despite picking up a knock in that game, he is expected to be fit.

According to reports in the UAE, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, has chartered a private plane to fly fans to South Korea for the first leg.

The second leg will take place in Al Ain on November 26. The winner will represent Asia in the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan in December.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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