Culpi demands strong Osaka start
© AFP

Cerezo Osaka boss Levir Culpi emphasised his side need to strike first against K-League leaders Jeonbuk Motors tomorrow night if they are to capitalise on their 4-3 aggregate advantage and reach the semi-finals of the AFC Champions League. A late goal two weeks ago in Osaka saw the J.League side come out on top in a thrilling first-leg of their quarter-final tie.

Culpi, who could have midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake back after a thigh injury picked up on international duty, is eager for his side to drive home their advantage at Jeonju World Cup Stadium tomorrow night. "I don't need to tell anyone how important tomorrow's game is. It is important that we don't make any mistakes and that we get the first goal," he said.

"We have a lot of technically good players which is why we are strong in attack and we are tenacious in trying to score goals. We always believe that we are capable of scoring. Jeonbuk are a good team and Jeonbuk and Cerezo are the attacking representatives of the two leagues, we showed that in the first leg. I think that the second will be similar."

It will be the two sides' fourth meeting in this season's competition after they were drawn together in the group stages and Jeonbuk boss Choi Kang-hee is well aware of their opponents' threat. "There won't be much difference in how we approach the second leg, we know each other's strengths and weaknesses well," he said. "In midfield, Cerezo are well-organised and dangerous. They have strengths and weaknesses. They played well in the second-half of the first leg and we have to show something similar. I trust that the players will give their best."

Al Ittihad lead FC Seoul 3-1 following a first-leg victory in Jeddah but boss Dimitri Davidovic insisted the Saudis would not merely try to protect their advantage at Seoul World Cup Stadium. "Football is not a sport that you can predict with any ease," said the Belgian. "But we don't intend to play defensive football and will instead be looking to be aggressive. If we play too nervously or cautiously then that could be a problem. As our position will greatly improve if we can score a goal, then we will be doing our best to do just that."

Seoul coach Choi Yang-soo has faith his men can overturn the two-goal deficit. "We know that we lost the first game 3-1 but this is just half-time," he said. "At home, we will do our best to produce a dramatic turnaround. We learnt a lot from the first leg and we will be stronger since some of the players who were suspended or injured for that game have now returned. I think that we will put in a better performance. We know that Al Ittihad are a good team but they are not a team we have to be scared of, we saw that in the first leg. Playing at home will be a big help for us. A win is certainly possible."