Pathum face uphill battle at Jeonbuk
Thai League 1 winners BG Pathum face a daunting assignment at South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the AFC Champions League last 16 round on Wednesday.
The task becomes more difficult for BG as they will not only be without three key players but also coach Aurilio Vidmar.
The missing players are defenders Victor Cardozo and Andres Tunez and prolific striker Diogo Luis Santo who all are out injured.
Australian Vidmar did not fly to South Korea due to complicated Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Vidmar guided Pathum past the group stage in June in his first assignment in his second spell with the Rabbits who are the only Thai team remaining in the continental club championship this season.
Thai strikers Teerasil Dangda and Chenrop Samphaodi are likely to start against two-time ACL champions Jeonbuk in a one-off match with the winners advancing to the quarter-finals.
In the absence of Diogo, the duo spearheaded the team’s attack against Ratchaburi in Thai League 1 on Friday.
They proved lethal as each scored a goal in their 2-0 win.
While Jeonbuk are aiming to reach the quarter-finals for the ninth time, BG are looking to become the first Thai side to reach the last eight since Buriram United in 2013.
Having won the ACL in 2006 and 2016, Jeonbuk have underperformed by their standards in recent years, with a quarter-final appearance in 2018 followed by round of 16 and group stage eliminations.
In the group stage, Jeonbuk beat Thailand’s Chiang Rai United twice, while Pathum lost twice to ACL title holders Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea.
In Tuesday’s action, Japan’s Nagoya Grampus Eight beat South Korea’s Daegu 4-2 to reach the quarter-finals.
On Monday, Saudi Arabian giants Al Hilal comfortably defeated Iran’s Esteghlal 2-0.