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Few complaints for Kim after Ulsan Hyundai issue AFC Champions League warning

Doha: Ulsan Hyundai head coach Kim Do-hoon was left with little to critique after his side convincingly outgunned Shanghai Shenhua to win 3-1 in their AFC Champions League clash on Saturday.

Appearing for the second time in Group F, and the first time in the competition’s new centralised format, the Korea Republic side were far too strong for their Chinese opponents, with Yoon Bit-garam scoring twice to take the sting out of the contest before half-time.

While Shanghai had already played and won against Perth Glory in Doha on Wednesday, Ulsan’s impressive showing came in their first fixture in Qatar, and Kim had only minor criticisms of what had been an excellent resumption of his team’s Asian campaign.

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“To be honest, I expected that the first game is always a tough game, but in terms of training, mentality, concentration - all of these things were great, and that’s why we were able to win the game today,” said the 2004 AFC Champions League top scorer.

“We had a couple of players who didn’t play that much in Korea, but they prepared very well. That’s why they played today, and that’s why I want to praise those players. I feel like the whole team played very well.

“We had only a few things which were a little bit of a shame. We had a lot of chances to score, but we couldn’t score as many as we would have liked. Also, the goal we conceded was disappointing. We could have had a clean sheet.”

Group F - MD2: Ulsan Hyundai FC 3-1 Shanghai Shenhua

Ulsan’s powerhouse display comes following a five-week period which saw the club squander opportunities to win both the K League and the Korean FA Cup, but Kim insists those competitions have nothing to do with the one currently being played in Qatar.

Looking solely at what lies ahead, the 50-year-old believes his players are strong enough to remain focused on the prize they can still win; the second Asian title in the club’s history.

“To be honest, what happened in Korea doesn’t matter in this competition,” he declared.

“Our process, our training and our analysis against each opponent is more important for this competition. We have players who can get over that situation, and I trust those players (to do so).

“I think winning can make a great atmosphere in the team, which is another good point from today. Every three days we have a game, so mentally we have to be prepared. Every player has to be.

“I feel like all of the players were well prepared today, which helped us a team.”

While one Korean head coach left Education City Stadium thoroughly satisfied, another, Shanghai Shenhua’s Choi Kang-hee, was left to pick up the pieces after his side slumped to a disappointing defeat.

Choi had taken the decision to leave several experienced players on the bench, with Chinese internationals Yu Hanchao and Feng Xiaoting, as well as eventual goal scorer Zhu Jianrong, all appearing as second half substitutes.

The former Korea Republic boss cited squad rotation and Shenhua’s lengthy injury list as the reasons for his selection decision but conceded that Ulsan had been deserved winners.

“Obviously I know Ulsan’s qualities,” said Choi. “They have a lot of great players in the team.

“Today I wanted to use our young players’ energy and fitness to try to hold them up in the first half, but we failed to do so, which meant we didn’t have the chance to adapt more in the second half.”

The 2019 Chinese FA Cup winners must now look to bounce back against FC Tokyo on Tuesday, but while Choi foreshadowed more personnel changes, it appears unlikely either of Givoanni Moreno or Kim Shin-wook will be among the reinforcements.

“Some of the players who entered in the second half today will be on the starting list for the next game,” Choi declared. “We will try our best to rotate for different opponents and different occasions.

“Kim Shin-wook and Giovanni Moreno are still in a recovery process, and they’ve only been training with the team for a short time, so (to play in) the next game will be difficult for them.”

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