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Preview - Group G: Pohang Steelers, Ratchaburi targeting early advantage in AFC Champions League

Bangkok: Korea Republic’s Pohang Steelers and Ratchaburi FC from Thailand will both be aiming to lay down a marker when they face off in Group G of the 2021 AFC Champions League on Tuesday. 

Pohang have history on their side having won the AFC Champions League in 2009, while Ratchaburi will be aiming to make a name for themselves in their debut season.

Pohang, who also won the Asian Club Championship in 1997 and 1998 and 2009, are making a return to the AFC Champions League for the first time since 2016.

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Pohang finished third in the 2020 K League 1 season and are adjusting to life without the formidable partnership of Russia’s Stanislav Iljutcenko and Serbian midfielder Aleksandar Palosevic, who both left the club in January.

“Tactically, we have analysed each of the teams here in Group G and it’s safe to say we are pleased with our preparations here in Bangkok,” said head coach Kim Gi-dong, who was named the 2020 K-League Manager of Year.

“Every team here is experiencing the same humid weather conditions and we are not here to make excuses. The most important thing is to look at the positives and focus on the game against Ratchaburi."

“Given the tight schedule of the domestic season, we’re really fortunate not to have serious injury concerns within our team.

"No team is better than the other here, we all have our strengths and weaknesses and what's important is to focus on the game itself. We're going to give everything we got in every single game, if we can do that then the results will come."

Sek-san Siripong’s Ratchaburi will be eager to make a statement when they face the much fancied Pohang side at the Rajamangala Stadium.

Ratchaburi finished fourth in the first half of the 2020–21 Thai League 1 season and qualified into the group stage alongside Pohang following Jiangsu FC’s withdrawal from the competition.

Apart from having foreign strikers Steeven Langil and Junior Mapuku ing their ranks, Ratchaburi surprised many when they included Thai celebrity Phakin Khamwilaisak in their squad.

"We are super ready and excited to be the one of the teams playing in the AFC Champions League this season,” said Siripong. “The players are looking forward to proving themselves tomorrow.

"Playing in the AFC Champions League is new for us and there’s nothing we can do about it but to try our best. The players are motivated and there’s a good buzz in the team so I think it's good for Ratchaburi.

"I think we didn't do something wrong in signing Phakin Khamwilaisak, he has shown great attitude and wants to be a professional footballer. Although he is new, he brings a good atmosphere to the team so I think this is good for us, so let's see what we can do with him.”

Pohang Steelers (KOR) v Ratchaburi FC (THA)
Venue: Rajamangala Stadium, Bangkok
Kick-off: June 22, 17:00 (UTC+7.00)

*Poll ends at 18:00 hours (UTC+8) on on June 22.

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