Ulsan HD coach Hong Myung-bo called it a “gift” to become the first K League club to qualify for FIFA’s 32-team Club World Cup.

Ulsan defeated Yokohama F.Marinos of Japan’s J1 League 1-0 in the first leg of the 2023-2024 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) semifinals at the Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium on Sunday.

Despite being out-shot 7 to 18 and out-possessed 41 percent to 59 percent, the 2022 J1 League champions were able to hold on to Lee Dong-kyung’s 19th-minute winner and smile from the sidelines.

“I am also happy that we have secured a ticket to represent Korea at the World Club Cup,” Hong said at the post-match press conference. This is the biggest gift for our players, club and fans.”

Lee Dong-kyung, who was named the Suhoon Player of the Match, said, “It’s good to win an important game. Besides that, I’m also happy that we advanced to the Club World Cup.”

With the victory, Ulsan had the added bonus of becoming the first Korean team to qualify for the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup.

FIFA, which is organizing the 32-team Club World Cup for the first time, allocated four tickets to Asia. Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia) and Urawa Red Diamonds (Japan) took one each.

Ulsan became the third Asian team to qualify for the Club World Cup after beating Yokohama and overtaking Jeonbuk Hyundai in the Confederation Ranking, which is based on ACL results over a four-year period.

This gave Ulsan the opportunity to compete in a large-scale tournament with both a group stage and a tournament, rather than informal matches such as friendlies against world-class teams in Europe.

“I’ve always wanted to play against Yokohama since I played in the K League, and it’s an honor to play against a team that’s bigger than Yokohama,” said goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo.

He added, “We will play with the attitude of always learning. We have a lot of matches ahead of us, so we will prepare one match at a time and do our best,” he added.

Prior to the kickoff, a special video was shown to honor the memory of former Incheon United coach Yoo Sang-chul.

The two teams, which won the league title side by side in 2022, share Yoo as a club legend.

During his career, Yoo played nine seasons with Ulsan and four seasons with Yokohama. He helped Ulsan win two K League titles and two League Cups, while Yokohama won two league titles.

Looking back on the moment when the players from both teams lined up and 메이저사이트 watched the video on the field, Hong described it as a “beautiful scene.

“I knew about the ceremony before the game. I think it’s a beautiful scene,” he said. “Both teams had Yoo Sang-chul on their rosters. It was a coincidence that we met at such an important time, but I would like to thank both clubs for organizing such an event.”

Yokohama head coach Harry Kural made no secret of his frustration with the officiating after the game.

“It was frustrating when the referee took one of our players out of the play for no reason,” said Cullen, who claimed that the referee apologized for the mistake. I was surprised that it happened.”

In the 19th minute of the first half, after a rough tackle on Lee Dong-kyung more than a minute before the goal, he and Ryo Miyauchi collided hard and fell down at the same time.

Following the referee’s instructions, play resumed with Lee and Miyauchi on the sideline together, and Yokohama’s defense was not properly aligned.

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