AFC Champions League in focus

ACL logo glowing

After months of uncertainty, Glory’s AFC Champions League Group F campaign is set to resume in Qatar on Wednesday 18 November.

Shanghai Shenhua will provide the opposition for Richard Garcia’s side in what is the first of two consecutive Glory “home games”, with the second coming six days later on Tuesday 24 November against Ulsan Hyundai.

The return fixture  with the Korean side is scheduled for later that week, on Friday 27 November, ahead of the second meeting with Shanghai Shenhua on Monday 30 November and the final group game against FC Tokyo on Thursday 3 December.

All locations and kick-off times are still TBC at the time of writing, but we thought it was an ideal moment to check in with our Group F opponents and get an idea of what kind of shape they are in ahead of the resumption.

Shanghai Shenhua

The Chinese Super League 2020 Season is close to reaching its climax, with Shanghai Shenhua having produced a solid, if unspectacular performance.

Following its resumption after the COVID-19 interruption, the competition was split into two groups and Shenhua qualified for the Championship play-offs after securing a fourth-place finish.

They feel at the first hurdle in those play-offs, however, edged out on penalties by city rivals Shanghai SIPG.

Choi-kang Hee’s side now face a two-legged clash with Hebei CFFC to decide who earns the dubious honour of finishing seventh and eighth.

In terms of their squad, Miler Bolanos is a new addition and the Ecuadorian attacking midfielder boasts an impressive resume which includes a Copa Libertadoes title with Gremio.

His return of two goals from his opening two games with Shenhua suggests that he could be a key figure in their ACL campaign.

Stephan El Shaarawy remains Shenhua’s headline act, although international duty has limited his club appearances in recent weeks and it remains unclear if experienced Korean striker Kim Shin-wook will recover from a broken leg in time to feature in Qatar.

Stephan El Shaarawy

Ulsan Hyundai

The dust has just settled on the 2020 K-League Season in which Ulsan were pipped to the title by Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

Just three points separated the two sides after 27 games, with Jeonbuk’s two victories over Ulsan ultimately proving decisive.

Junior Negrao enjoyed a standout campaign for Ulsan, the Brazilian frontman claiming the league Golden Boot after finding the target a remarkable 26 times in a 27-game season.

Junior Negrao v Glory

Korean winger Kim In-sung was another star performer, contributing six assists, but former Glory man Jason Davidson found his first-team opportunities limited and featured on only four occasions.

FC Tokyo

Slated to finish shortly before Christmas, the J-League 2020 Season is entering its final furlong and FC Tokyo are currently sitting in eighth spot, three points adrift of Nagoya Grampus in third.

The club has retained the services of its four Brazilian imports, including winger Leandro whose stunning strike consigned Glory to defeat in the Japanese capital earlier this year.

Leandro v Glory

A broken metatarsal seems likely to prevent key attacking midfielder Keigo Higashi from featuring in Qatar, however and a knee problem is set to rule out central defender Makoto Okazaki.

Former Japanese international striker Kenta Hasegawa, meanwhile, remains in charge having taken up the reins in 2018 and guided the club to a second-place finish a year later.