Sunday, April 5, 2015

5 April 2002 - Suwon Says Goodbye To Anyang

On 5 April 2002, defending champions Suwon Samsung Bluewings met their fellow South Korean compatriots Anyang LG Cheetahs at Tehran's Azadi Stadium in the 2002 Asian Club Championship Final. The two teams had met earlier in the quarterfinals, where they played to a 0-0 draw, and the Final was an equally close contest.

The Asian Club Championship started in 1985 as a replacement for the previous Asian Champion Club Tournament, which had been played from 1967 to 1972. The new tournament was modeled after UEFA's European Cup, pitting the top Asian Football Confederation clubs against each other. For the first several rounds, the clubs were divided into Eastern and Western brackets, culminating in the quarterfinals, which were played as a group stage with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semifinals.

Suwon and Anyang opened the East Asian quarterfinals by playing to a scoreless draw on 17 February before finishing as the top two East Asian sides, while the top two West Asian sides were Iran's Esteghlal FC and Uzbekistan's Nasaf Qarshi FC. In the semis, Suwon easily dispatched the Uzbekistani side 3-0 while Anyang needed a 72nd-minute goal to edge the Iranians, 2-1.

The two South Korean sides were equally matched in the Final, playing to another scoreless draw through extra time. In the ensuing shootout, Suwon keeper Lee Woon-jae provided the edge, twice denying Anyang to give Suwon a 4-2 win on penalty kicks. It was Suwon's second consecutive Asian Club Championship trophy.

It was the last such trophy, as the following season, the AFC rebranded the tournament as the AFC Champions League.

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