Felix Magath will have to wait longer to win a continental title. The German coach and his new Chinese employers Shandong Luneng were eliminated by FC Seoul of the Republic of Korea in the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League. After a 3-1 defeat in the first leg three weeks ago the East Chinese needed a win by two clear goals at home but only managed a 1-1 (0-0) draw. Magath took the helm in Shandong in June.
Victors FC Seoul will meet Korean rivals Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC in the semi-finals. Jeonbuk overran the star-studded team of Shanghai SIPG, coached by former England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson 5-0 (0-0). Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates and El Jaish SC from Qatar will play the other semi-final. Al Ain defeated Lokomotiv Tashkent BK of Uzbekistan 1-0 (0-0); El Jaish SC beat Al Nasr of the United Arab Emirates also 1-0 (1-0).
The dream of a major international coaching success remains unfulfilled for Felix Magath, but perhaps medium-term after Shandong Luneng’s failure against FC Seoul. Since being coached by the 1980 European champion the club has clearly improved in the Chinese Super League, but can no longer qualify for the Champions League. Magath was previously eliminated early with Bayern Munich in the European Champions League, and later sacked by Schalke 04 before the club reached the semi-finals in 2011. As a player Magath won the European Champions Cup with Hamburger SV in 1983.
Shandong Luneng’s fans nourished hopes of reaching the semi-finals until the 83rd minute. Argentine Walter Montillo scored to give the hosts a 1-0 lead with a header in the 59th minute. Former Schalke player Hao Junmin then hit a cross towards the goal, and a few minutes later had the opportunity to increase the score to 2-0. But his powerful shot from 14 metres went over the bar. Italian international Graziano Pelle, who was bought from Southampton FC in July and became one of the world‘s best-paid footballers, failed several times from promising positions. Seven minutes from time FC Seoul’s equaliser ended all speculation.
Swedish coach Sven-Göran Eriksson and Shanghai SIPG were also ousted in the quarter-finals. After a goalless first leg in China, Shanghai suffered a massive 5-0 defeat at Korean champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC. The former Brazilian U20 international Leonardo scored Jeonbuk’s first in the 52nd minute, followed by a Shanghai own goal shortly afterwards to make it 2-0. Shanghai attacked but broke completely apart in the final minutes conceding three goals within 360 seconds.
The defeat means that matters could get tight for Eriksson. His club had signed on his recommendation Dario Conca and Elkeson, who won the AFC Champions League with Guangzhou Evergrande in 2013. A few months ago the management even kicked it up a notch financing the record transfer of Brazilian international striker Hulk. But the team are plagued by injuries. Hulk missed the first leg against the Koreans, Elkeson the second leg, and Conca both matches. SIPG have no chance to winning the national title. The notorious impatience in Chinese football could prove disastrous for Eriksson.
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC will meet FC Seoul in the all-Korean semi-final. In 2006 Jeonbuk were the first non-champions to win the competition. Now the club have the opportunity to crown themselves Asian champions as reigning national champions.
Al Ain from the United Arab Emirates may also hope for their second title after 2003. For the second time in a row the club achieved the feat to reach the next round with their 1-0 win away at Lokomotiv Tashkent in Uzbekistan, despite a draw at home in the first leg. The newly signed Brazilian Caio set them on course for victory with his goal in the 38th minute. In the previous round Al Ain also went through thanks to an away win.
Al Ain will encounter El Jaish SC from Qatar in the semi-finals. The Qataris reached the semis for the first time with a 1-0 victory at Al Nasr of the United Arab Emirates. El Jaish travelled to the Emirates with a three-goal advantage. Nine minutes after kick-off Brazilian Romarinho killed all hopes held by the opponents by scoring.