TOKYO, Nov 12 (Reuters) - South Korea's Seongnam Ilhwa have
developed an original method for relaxing the players for
Saturday's Asian Champions League final - discussing their love
"I have a young team and I'm trying to keep them relaxed,"
Seongnam coach Shin Tae-yong told Reuters on Friday before the
K-League side face Iran's Zobahan in Tokyo.
"I tell them jokes and get them to talk about their
"I don't want them to feel any extra pressure," added the
40-year-old, whose team are heavy favourites to become the
second successive South Korean side to win the tournament after
the Pohang Steelers took the title last year.
"This is the opportunity of a lifetime for the players. My
job is to make sure they don't let the pressure get to them. If
they can do that I'm confident we will win."
Seongnam, Asian champions in 1995, are expected to beat
Zobahan and emulate K-League rivals Pohang Steelers by
qualifying for FIFA's lucrative Club World Cup in December.
"I have a secret plan to win tomorrow's game but I am
keeping it up my sleeve," said Shin, who won 15 trophies as a
player for Seongnam from 1992 to 2004, including six K-League
"Koreans are more used to the climate and culture in Japan.
There is no time difference so we are in a favourable position
However, Zobahan coach Mansour Ebrahimzadeh was confident
the extra travel would not stop his side pulling off an upset in
the final and reaching the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi.
"I don't care where we play," he told reporters. "Our
objective is the same. We are here to win. We know Seongnam are
a great team but I'm confident we will win."
Zobahan are bidding to become the first Iranian club to win
the Champions League since it was launched in 2002.
Shin was part of the Ilhwa side who won the 1995 Asian club
championship but is haunted by Seongnam's previous appearance in
the AFC Champions League final in 2004.
He watched from the bench in both legs as Ilhwa beat Saudi
Arabia's Al Ittihad 3-1 away before suffering a stunning 5-0
home humiliation which cost the club the title.
"I have bad memories of that because of the result and
because I didn't play," said Shin. "But this time we have no
injuries and are in almost perfect condition.
"It's been a long road to get here and we're determined to
show the strength of the K-League and lift the trophy."
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