There’s still a long way to go. But the mood has changed. Jeonbuk Hyundai has finally started to stir.
Jeonbuk was considered to be the only contender to Ulsan Hyundai in the 2023 season. However, Jeonbuk’s winter was longer and harsher than in previous years. Even coach Kim Sang-sik was forced to quit midway through.
They were still no match for Ulsan. Ulsan has run away with the title with 12 wins, one draw, and one loss in 14 games (37 points). Jeonbuk, who once dropped as low as 10th place, is currently in 7th place (18-5W, 3L, 6D), but they’re no longer a “formidable” team. The lack of a winning streak is somewhat disappointing, but the team has recently begun an upward curve with four consecutive K League 1 matches without a defeat (2 wins, 2 draws). This is why Jeonbuk’s acting head coach Kim Doo-hyun declared that ‘Jeonbuk is back’.
Jeonbuk has immediately emerged as the ‘eye of the storm’ in the battle for second place. Currently, the biggest battleground in the K League 1 is the battle for second place. FC Seoul, Jeju United, and Pohang Steelers are all tied on 24 points. In terms of goals scored, Seoul is second with 28, while Jeju (21) and Pohang (19) are third and fourth. Fifth-place Daejeon Hana Citizens (21 points) are within striking distance. Sixth-place Daegu FC (20 points), which has won two in a row, is also in the hunt. And then there’s Jeonbuk.
Rounds 15 and 16 are the watershed. Jeonbuk hosts Pohang at Pohang Steel Yard on May 29. Then, on June 3, they welcome their ‘eternal rival’ Ulsan to their home.
A good performance in these two matches will help fuel their momentum. Jeonbuk also got off to a slow start last year, but turned things around with two eight-match unbeaten streaks (W6 D2 L). Against ‘champions’ Ulsan, they came from behind to fight for the lead until the very end.안전놀이터
Of course, Pohang and Ulsan are not easy opponents. Jeonbuk’s crisis began on February 25, when they lost their opening match against Ulsan 1-0. The 1-0 loss to Pohang on February 25 was even more devastating. The first back-to-back losses of the season led to an indelible streak. Jeonbuk insists that it is different now. The results speak for themselves. Jeonbuk has scored seven goals and conceded two in its last four matches. The solidified offensive and defensive balance gives Jeonbuk hope.
It is an unwritten rule in sports that ‘teams that go up eventually go up’. If Jeonbuk can get back on track, the K League 1 will be richer for it.