Korea Republic striker Kim Shin-wook has backed Ulsan Hyundai’s high-powered attack to continue to flourish in Saturday’s AFC Champions League final against Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia to ensure the continental title returns to Korean hands for a third time in four years.
Kim Ho-gon’s side are the leading scorers in the competition this season with 24 goals in 11 games, while Ulsan’s eight match winning run has equalled the AFC Champions League record to ensure K-League representation in the final for a fourth consecutive season.
And with Kim Shin-wook and international team-mate Lee Keun-ho having scored in the last three matches in the competition and Brazilian striker Rafinha netting four goals in as many games, confidence is high that Ulsan can follow in the footsteps of 2009 champions Pohang Steelers and 2010 winners Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma.
“I feel very good because I have to play in an important match,” said Kim Shin-wook, who has six goals in the AFC Champions League this season.
“There is some tension within the squad because it is such a big game, but we are all focused on doing our best and winning the match.”
Having scored three times to help Ulsan return to the quarter-finals for the first time since their 2006 run to the semi-finals, Kim Shin-wook helped Ulsan record an impressive 4-0 win over Saudi Arabia’s Al Ahli in their second leg of their quarter-final in Jeddah as the 2011 K-League Cup winners prevailed 5-0 on aggregate.
Another trademark header from the towering striker helped Ulsan record a 3-1 comeback win over Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor in the first leg of their semi-final in Tashkent before his opportunistic second half strike in the return fixture sent Ulsan on their way to a 2-0 victory to comfortably advance to the continental final for the first time.
Lee Keun-ho’s spectacular second half strike in the second leg against Bunyodkor took his tally for the competition to four, while Rafinha has six goals in total having also netted twice for Japan’s Gamba Osaka during the Group Stage.
“There is very good communication between myself and our other attacking players Lee Keun-ho and Rafinha,” added Kim Shin-wook.
“We are all very skillful and have very good technique and we are confident that we can score many goals.”
Al Ahli’s equally potent attack which contains Brazilian striker Victor Simoes – who is the third-highest scorer in this season’s AFC Champions League with seven goals – and Oman international Amad Al Hosni has, though, not gone unnoticed by Kim Shin-wook with the 2011/12 Saudi League runners-up having netted 19 goals on their way to the final.
But equally the absence of defender Mansour Al Harbi, who was sent-off at the end of Al Ahli’s semi-final second leg win over Al Ittihad, has not been missed by the 24-year-old striker.
Al Harbi and captain Taiseer Al Jassam are the only two players to have started 10 of Al Ahli’s 11 matches in the AFC Champions League this season, but his absence will force coach Karel Jarolim into at least one change for the meeting at Ulsan Munsu Stadium.
“Al Ahli’s attack is very good; they are very fast and very good technically. But equally, they have a good balance. I expect it to be a very attack minded game,” added Kim Shin-wook, who stands at 1.96 metres tall.
“Al Ahli also have a very good defence, but I have noticed they are very small and that is very good for me. I also know that one of their defenders is suspended and that is also very good news for me.”