Road to Qatar 2020
Ulsan Hyundai didn't enjoy a good start to their AFC Champions League campaign, labouring to a 1-1 home draw against FC Tokyo in their opening match. When the competition resumed in November after its nine-month, COVID-19-enforced postponement, however, they emerged as a different team. Five straightforward victories saw them progress as winners of a group which also featured Shanghai Shenhua and Perth Glory. The Tigers then continued this fine form in the knockout phase, beating Melbourne Victory 3-0 in the Round of 16 before seeing off Beijing Guoan 2-0. Their spirit came to the fore in the semi-finals, when they had to come from behind to overcome Vissel Kobe 2-1 after extra-time, and their second continental title was secured when they edged Persepolis by an identical scoreline in the final.
Ulsan will enter the FIFA Club World Cup under a new coach in the shape of Hong Myungbo. The Korea Republic legend replaced Kim Dohoon, who had guided the team through their AFC Champions League campaign. A veteran of four FIFA World Cups, Hong is best known for captaining Korea Republic to the last four at Korea/Japan 2002. As a manager, he guided the Taeguk Warriors' Olympic side to a maiden bronze medal at London 2012 before overseeing the senior national team's winless campaign at Brazil 2014.
What to expect
Ulsan were the top scorers in the 2020 AFC Champions League with 23 goals, and spearheading their formidable attacking line-up is Brazilian forward Junior Negrao, who scored seven times to finish as the tournament's joint top-scorer. Driving the team from the midfield, meanwhile, is Champions League MVP Yoon Bitgaram, who is expected to showcase his creative talents in front of the watching world. The experience of former Bolton Wanderers winger Lee Chungyong and captain Lee Keunho will also be crucial to the Koreans in Qatar.
0 – Ulsan finished their debut FIFA Club World Cup in 2012 empty-handed, suffering two successive losses at the hands of Monterrey and Sanfrecce Hiroshima.