Asian champions Chonbuk relish Barca challenge

November 9, 2006

SEOUL, Nov 9 (Reuters) - South Korea's Chonbuk Motors are looking forward to a potential clash with Barcelona in the FIFA World Club Cup after becoming the first East Asian side to win the Asian Champions League.

Chonbuk, who held a 2-0 lead over Al Karama after the first leg in Korea, were pegged back to level terms by the Syrian side in Homs on Wednesday before Brazilian striker Ze Carlo's 88th- minute header sealed a 3-2 aggregate victory.

The win landed the South Korean side $600,000 in prize money and a ticket to the World Club Cup in Tokyo next month as the representatives of Asia.

'I couldn't be happier as our dream of the title came true,' Chonbuk coach Choi Kang-hee told Yonhap news agency, adding that even when his side went two goals down he still believed in them.

Choi said he was now setting his sights on the World Club Cup in Japan.

'We hope to get past the first game so that we can play Barcelona,' he said.

'Whether we win or not, it will be an opportunity for this club to take a leap forward.'

South Korean media lauded Chonbuk's efforts and praised Choi for getting the right mix of experience and youth into the side.

The Sports Chosun newspaper said on its Web site that the key to victory had been Choi's confidence in his young players and Ze Carlo's ability to blend with South Korean players.

Chonbuk fans were also quick to lavish praise on their team and looked forward to mixing it with the best club teams in the world in Tokyo.

'I hope they spread Chonbuk's name not only in the South Korean league but also at the summit of Asia soccer,' said a fan identified as Keonchan on the team's website.