Continuing to climb or stalling again? Jeonbuk to play two fateful games…’strong men’ Pohang and Ulsan meet
It’s a fateful time for Jeonbuk Hyundai: a two-game series against tough rivals. It is safe to say that the fate of the first half of the season is at stake in the last game of May and the first game of June.
Jeonbuk will host the Pohang Steelers at Pohang Steel Yard on the 29th for the 15th round of the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023. Everyone is worried about the trip to Pohang, but they are confident. After 14 rounds, Jeonbuk is in seventh place with five wins, three draws and six losses, and 18 points. They are unbeaten in four consecutive league games (W2 D2). Including the FA Cup round of 16, they are unbeaten in five matches.스포츠토토
To put it bluntly, joining the title race is unrealistic. Defending champions Ulsan Hyundai are far ahead with 12 wins, one draw, and 37 points. With more points dropped than picked up so far, it’s almost impossible for them to challenge for the title.
The reasons for the fall were clear. Despite a big spending spree on generational change, certain positions were heavily skewed. Poor scouting that led to the inclusion of a number of underwhelming foreign players, a physical system that wasted time in winter training, and a lack of quality on the bench combined to turn the team into a ‘neighbourhood drum’.
Fortunately, it was a belated comeback. There’s plenty of room for pride, even without a title challenge. The improvement in performance is as encouraging as the unbeaten record. The team has also regained its distinctive team colour, ‘Dakgong’ (shut up and attack), to some extent. This is why acting head coach Kim Doo-hyun is confident that “Jeonbuk is back”.
However, the next two games are a different story. After the trip to Pohang, which has 24 points (6 wins, 6 draws, 2 losses) and is in second place, Jeonbuk will host Ulsan in the ‘Hyundai Derby’ at Jeonju World Cup Stadium on the 3rd of next month. Both teams lost in their first meeting this season. We lost 1-2 away to Ulsan in the season opener, and we lost 1-2 at home to Pohang on the 1st of last month. Not only were both losses come-from-behind, but injuries, errors, and sending-offs all played a role. It was an early setback for the winning formula of “take all the points you can get and don’t give points to tricky opponents”.
Jeonbuk declared a total war. A strong counterattack from Pohang, who celebrated their 50th anniversary, is expected, but in terms of desperation, the ‘nowhere to fall’ visitors seem to be stronger. And while dropping three points won’t allow them to chase down the leaders, they still need to catch Ulsan to restore their pride. Despite losing their most in-form central midfielder Baek Seung-ho to a micro-tear in his adductor muscle (2-3 weeks), Jeonbuk are nearing full strength with the return of their injured players and should be able to operate at close to 90% capacity.