Ulsan have to reach for the stars, says Mix Diskerud
Ulsan: American midfielder Mix Diskerud believes anything is possible for K-League side Ulsan Hyundai if they progress to the 2019 AFC Champions League knockout stage, with victory in Tuesday's Group H clash against Sydney FC enough to do so with a game to spare.
Korea Republic's Ulsan knows what it takes to win the AFC Champions League and, moreover, they know what it takes to do so unbeaten having done just that in the 2012 edition.
While it is far too early to say, the 2019 version of the team is set to replicate this, they have certainly begun in similar fashion having not lost in their first four fixtures, and are one of just three sides yet to taste defeat.
The-AFC.com spoke exclusively to Ulsan's Norway-born United States international Diskerud to get his views on the tournament so far, how deep the Korean club can go, and what lies in store for Tuesday's tie with Sydney FC.
Kuala Lumpur: It’s do-or-die for many of the 16 teams in the East Zone of the 2019 AFC Champions League ahead of the fifth round of fixtures as the group stage moves towards a gripping finale.
The eight sides in Groups G and H will take to the field on Tuesday, before the remaining eight teams in Groups E and F follow suit a day later in a week that should see a number of the knockout stage qualification berths decided.
Group H: Kawasaki Frontale (JPN) 2-2 Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR)
Kawasaki: A late equaliser revived Kawasaki Frontale’s fading hopes of progress to the last 16 as they drew 2-2 at home to Ulsan Hyundai on Matchday Four of 2019 AFC Champions League Group H.
It took just eight minutes for the home side to take the lead as Ulsan conceded for the first time in this year’s tournament. Following a corner, the ball broke to Ryota Oshima at the edge of the Ulsan box.
Oshima played the perfect pass through a crowd of bodies and found Yu Kobayashi, who rifled home from an angle.
But 10 minutes later, Ulsan equalised against the run of play when Sin Jin-ho’s corner from the left dropped for Park Yong-woo to direct home from close range at the far post.
Group H: Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR) 1-0 Shanghai SIPG FC (CHN)
Ulsan: Substitute Junior Negrao’s second-half strike gave Ulsan Hyundai a 1-0 victory over Shanghai SIPG on Matchday Two of AFC Champions League Group H on Wednesday.
There was a scrappy opening to the game and neither side was able to gain the upper hand in the first 20 minutes.
There was finally a chance for Ulsan in the 21st minute but Kim Su-an failed to get enough power on his header, allowing Yan Junling to save comfortably.
The hosts almost gifted SIPG the opening goal when Oscar intercepted a loose crossfield pass from Dave Bulthuis. The Brazilian advanced on goal and his shot from 25 yards was pushed wide by Oh Seung-hoon.
Group H: Sydney FC (AUS) 0-0 Ulsan Hyundai FC (KOR)
Sydney: Sydney FC and Ulsan Hyundai were forced to share the spoils after neither side could find the back of the net in a tight 0-0 draw in their opening 2019 AFC Champions League Group H encounter at Jubilee Stadium on Wednesday.
The home side came out of the blocks the stronger of the two teams with Adam Le Fondre having three good chances in the opening 12 minutes, but the English striker couldn’t find the target with any of his efforts.
Shanghai: Sydney FC striker Adam Le Fondre insisted his overriding emotion was one of disappointment despite picking up what could be a valuable point in a 2-2 draw at Shanghai SIPG on Matchday Four of the AFC Champions League on Tuesday.
The Englishman equalised after two quickfire SIPG goals had put the Chinese side in front, following Brandon O’Neill’s first-half opener for Sydney. But neither team could find the winner, leaving SIPG two points above the Australian side in Group H.
“We’re disappointed to get the draw and I think we were good value to get the win,” said Le Fondre. “We were pushing all the way and were the team in the ascendancy come the end of the game. We were really disappointed when the full-time whistle went.”