“We want to turn the tide in the league through our first match in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL),” said Ulsan Hyundai head coach Hong Myung-bo, whose team is at the top of the K League One but has slumped in the second half of the season .Hong made the remarks at a press conference at Hyundai Hotel by Lahan in Ulsan’s Dong-gu, a day before the club’s ACL Group I first leg against Pathum Thani in the 2023-2024 season. Ulsan is still at the top of the K League 1 table (62 points), but the mood is not good .They have won just two, drawn three and lost four of their nine league games since playing Incheon United on 12 July. The gap between them and second-placed Pohang Steelers (56 points) has narrowed to six points .In this situation, a win against Pum could mean more than just a first-round ACL victory. “We are in a slump in the league,” said Hong, “and we want to turn it around through the ACL so that the league can also go upwards. Starting with tomorrow’s match against PATUM, we will definitely win so that we can have a good trend until the league matches against Suwon FC and Pohang. “Ulsan has fond memories of facing Patum in the group stage of the 2021 tournament, winning both meetings 2-0.”Some of the players we played against two years ago are still there,” said Hong. We have added some good players (since then) and I think we are a better team now,” he warned. Ulsan will be making their third ACL appearance under Hong. Ulsan reached the quarter-finals in the 2021 edition of the tournament, before being knocked out in the group stage in 2022.From this year’s edition, the ACL will be played on the Autumn Festival instead of the Spring Festival, giving Hong even more to calculate. “Last year, we had a clear goal (to win the K League 1 title), so we didn’t care (about the ACL result),” Hong said, “but (now) the season is coming to an end. The ACL is a new start. It’s a different format than before. Next, the ACL is important because it’s the first race to start the season next year. It is important to calculate these things well and get through the group stage this year.” The first leg of the group stage between Ulsan and Khartoum will kick 토토 off at 7pm on the 19th at the Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan.

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