Kim Shin-wook expects tight contest with 'more experienced' Shanghai SIPG
Shanghai: Wednesday's AFC Champion League Round of 16 clash between the champions of Korea Republic and China PR is a repeat of the 2016 quarter-finals, but Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors striker Kim Shin-wook expects a much tighter outcome this time around.
Shanghai SIPG's maiden appearance in the AFC Champions League three years ago was ended in comprehensive fashion when they came up against eventual winners Jeonbuk in the last eight.
After a goalless draw at Shanghai Stadium, the K-League side turned on the style to defeat their Chinese Super League visitors 5-0 in Jeonju to sail into the semi-finals.
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Since then, however, Shanghai SIPG have returned to the AFC Champions League knockout stages in 2017 (Semi-finals) and 2018 (Round of 16).
And Kim Shin-wook, who played in both legs of the 2016 quarter-finals, believes Shanghai SIPG are a far different proposition than in their Continental debut.
"We may have won by a large margin last time we faced them, but since then Shanghai have been a regular competitior in the AFC Champions League," said the Jeonbuk striker.
"As a result, they've grown into a much stronger team because they have more Continental experience than before.
"I do expect this to be a tight contest, but - of course - I believe Jeonbuk will win as we did last time."
The first and second legs of the contest will be played out exactly as they were in 2016 with Jeonbuk travelling to China PR first, before hosting the return meeting on June 26.
Nevertheless, two-time AFC Champions League winner Kim believes it will be a level playing field, evened out by the respective home and away advantages.
"If you play the second leg at home, you have an advantage because you play in front of your home fans," he said.
"But at the same time, you have to play the away game first in same condition and your opponent also then have the advantage of away goals."
"So, I think we're going to compete on an equal footing. Shanghai has good players, but all the teams that made it to the tournament are very talented.
"Also, the tournament has many variables, so you have to take care to advance to the next round. At this stage, I don't think there's an easy team to play against."
On a personal level, the 31-year-old has enjoyed another successful Continental campaign so far adding three goals to his AFC Champions League haul to take his total to 19 overall.
17' - GOAL! 1-0 to @Jeonbuk_Hyundai!— FOX Sports LIVE! (@FSAsiaLive) May 7, 2019
Kim Shin-wook has struck for the South Koreans as he heads in a cross to give the visitors a deserved early lead here! Beijing Guoan 0-1 Jeonbuk Hyundai! #ACL2019 #BJGvJEO pic.twitter.com/BGoGRPTckK
A tally he may well add to against a Shanghai SIPG defence that has, at times, proved breachable.
"I don't believe their defence is weak, despite them conceding some goals," he added.
"As I said, the teams that reach the AFC Champions League Round of 16 are all very talented — but, of course, I'd love to score against them!
"The most important thing, though, is to help the team to go through to the quarter-finals and go on to accomplish our goal of winning the Asian championship."
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