Pohang, Beijing join line-up for 2010 AFC Champions League

19:28, November 02, 2009      

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Beijing Guoan will lead four Chinese clubs into next year's AFC Champions League after winning their first Chinese Super League title.

Pohang Steelers, who play Al Itti had in Saturday's AFC Champions League final in Tokyo, confirmed their place in next year's continental competition by finishing second in the K-League table ahead of the play-offs.

Midfielder Hwang Jin-sung scored in the 11th minute as Pohang beat reigning champions Suwon Samsung Bluewings 1-0 on Sunday to finish ahead of FC Seoul on goal difference after both teams finished on 53 points.

Honduran Emil Martinez hit a hat-trick as Beijing beat Hangzhou Greentown 4-0 in front a packed house at the Workers Stadium on Saturday to finish on 51 points, one ahead of Changchun Yatai.

Henan Jianye finished third on 48 points, while Shandong Luneng were fourth on goal difference after finishing level on 45 points with Shanghai Shenhua and Tianjin Teda.

Shandong won last year's Chinese Super League and competed in this year's AFC Champions League with Shanghai, Beiing and Tianjin, although all four teams failed to progress from the group stage.

Beijing's South Korean coach Lee Jang-soo was sacked last month with Guoan tied for second with seven matches left. After firing Lee and replacing him with Hong Yuanshuo, Beijing won three and drew three.

Beijing's best previous finish was second in 2007, while they finished third last year to qualify for this year's AFC Champions League.

FC Seoul, managed by Senol Gunes, reached the quarterfinals of this year's AFC Champions League, but will now rely on the K-League play-offs to secure a spot in next year's competition.

Jeonbuk Motors, led by K-League top scorer Lee Dong-gook, topped the table on 57 points. Jeonbuk will contest the championship play- off final against Pohang or the winners of the preliminary play- offs between the teams ranked third to sixth.

The top three teams in the K-League play-offs and the winners of Sunday's FA Cup final between Suwon and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma will compete in next year's AFC Champions League.

Pohang will be competing in the AFC Champions League for the third successive time after qualifying for the last two events by winning the K-League in 2007 and the FA Cup last year.

The Steelers reached this year's AFC Champions League final by winning their semifinal 4-1 on aggregate against Qatar's Umm Salal, who had beaten FC Seoul in the quarterfinals.

Al Ittihad are also assured of a place in next year's AFC Champions League after they won the 2008-09 Saudi Pro League.

Source: Xinhua
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