‘Indifferent’. It was an awkward word for Jeonbuk Hyundai, the ‘absolute number one’ in the K League. Mugwan, which was far from Jeonbuk, became a reality. There is nothing to regret. It is Jeonbuk’s mission to avoid the worst.
Jeonbuk ended 2023 empty-handed after losing 2-4 in the Korean Football Association (FA) Cup final to the Pohang Steelers on April 4. Jeonbuk is in the group stage of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL), but the winner will be determined next year as the ACL will be replaced by the Chuseok Festival starting this season.레모나토토 도메인
After a poor start to the season, Jeonbuk hasn’t won a trophy in 10 years, since 2013. Jeonbuk was also embarrassed last year when they lost the league title to their archrivals, Ulsan Hyundai, after reaching the top of the FA Cup. They failed to do so again in the 2023 season.
This year was a different story. They are not even guaranteed to qualify for the ACL in 2024-25. Jeonbuk is in fourth place with three league games remaining. They are four points behind third-place Gwangju FC (57 points). They are one point ahead of fifth-place Incheon United (52 points), so even a spot in the ACL could be out of reach.
The ACL will be divided into the ACL Elite (ACLE) and ACL2 (the second-tier competition) starting in the 2024-25 season. Each K League team will be granted three ACLE tickets (2+1) and one ACL2 ticket. Ulsan, the winner of the K League 1, will head to the ACLE, while the distribution of tickets between the second- and third-place teams and the FA Cup winner is undecided. However, if the current K League 1 standings are maintained until the end and the FA Cup winner takes the ACLE berth, Jeonbuk will have to compete in ACL2.
An awkward situation could become a reality for Jeonbuk, which has won the ACL twice before (2006-2016), as it would be playing itself in the second-tier competition. If they allow Incheon to catch up, the worst that could happen is that the once dominant club in Asia will not be able to compete in the ACL.
The priority is to rebuild the team after the FA Cup runner-up disappointment. Jeonbuk has three remaining league games against Incheon, Gwangju, and Ulsan in its ACL group stage schedule. The matches against Incheon and Gwangju are actually crucial, with six points on the line, while the final match against Ulsan, with pride on the line, will also have a huge impact on the standings.
Before the 2023 season, Jeonbuk boasted some of the best players in the league, including Lee Dong-joon, Amano Jun, and Chung Tae-wook. However, the team struggled from the start of the season and eventually parted ways with coach Kim Sang-sik in May, handing the reins to Dan Petrescu.
Even under Petrescu, who emphasized winning mentality, Jeonbuk’s momentum did not improve. In the summer transfer window, the team made additions in several positions, including Park Jae-yong and Petrasek, but barely made it to Final A (the top six teams in the K League 1). With the top of the league already a long way off, Jeonbuk tried to win the FA Cup, but it was a bitter pill to swallow.