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Vidmar relishing BG Pathum United's AFC Champions League Round of 16 challenge, Hong applauds Ulsan Hyundai players for extending  record

Bangkok: BG Pathum United head coach Aurelio Vidmar hailed his side for putting up a good fight against AFC Champions League titleholders Ulsan Hyundai FC on Sunday as the Australian immediately cast his eyes on the Thai side's upcoming Round of 16 tie. 

Goals by Kim Min-jun and man of the match Valeri Qazaishvili saw Ulsan walk away with a perfect record of six wins to finish as Group F winners, while BG Pathum United advanced as one of three best runners-up.

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Vidmar had to do without the services of several key players due to fatigue and only had praise for those who stood in for them.

“We’re very pleased with our progression into the Round of 16,” said Vidmar. “I’ve said earlier that this is probably one of the hardest groups, and it goes to show that in the two games we lost to Ulsan, there wasn’t a lot of difference. It showed that we can certainly match the best, and I’m proud of the performance the players put in tonight."

“We didn’t have our main foreign players who are very important to the team, and a lot of the Thai players stood up. Those players that haven’t gotten much game time until tonight did a really good job for us.

“They are probably down in match fitness compared to players who have rhythm, so it’s normal that they are fatigued, but tonight they were excellent.”

Ulsan will face Group I toppers Kawasaki Frontale in September, while BG Pathum United take on two-time AFC Champions League winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC, who won Group H.

Jeonbuk are familiar foes for Vidmar, who was part of the Adelaide United coaching staff when the K League club defeated them 3-2 in the 2010 AFC Champions League Round of 16, and the 54-year-old coach is hoping to get a positive result this time around.

2021 AFC Champions League: BG Pathum United 0-2 Ulsan Hyundai FC

“When we get to the Round of 16, there will be a lot of great teams in there and Jeonbuk have great history,” said Vidmar, who led Adelaide United to the 2008 final.

“I’m looking forward to it, and I think it’s going to be another great challenge for us, and a milestone for the club to play in this great tournament.

“Thank you to all the BG fans and everyone who has supported us. We can’t hear you, but we know you’re there. Keep believing and fighting with us. We hope that by the time the Round of 16 comes, you’re able to come to the stadium. The players are longing for the fans to be in the stadium.”

Ulsan, along with Kawasaki Frontale, were the only teams to have won all six group stage matches and head coach Hong Myung-bo was more than pleased with how hard his charges worked to keep their record winning streak - now at 15 - going.

“There were some changes in their (BG Pathum United) roster, where they didn’t have Diogo and the rest, but the Thai players communicated very well,” said Hong. “Our players, however, were very eager to win the last game in order to keep the winning streak going, and performed on the pitch.

“As a coach, I’m satisfied that we won all six games in the group stage, despite the tough schedule and environment. I want to express my appreciation and gratitude to our players.”

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