The second half of the season hasn’t gone well for Jeonbuk Hyundai. They tried to overcome their poor form and drop in the standings and tried to make up for it in the FA Cup, but only finished as runners-up. They needed to rebound against an inferior team in the ACL, but even that failed.
Jeonbuk met Ryan City in the fourth round of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) Group F for the 2023-24 season at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore on Aug. 8. They needed to knock out the Lions and take all three points to advance to the round of 16 in the ACL.
AFC Champions League qualification is also a question mark. Although it’s not yet finalized, the team could only breathe a sigh of relief by winning the FA Cup. The water was up, so they needed a win away to Lion City to give themselves a green light to advance to the round of 16.
Unlike Korea, which is experiencing a chilly winter, Singapore was sweltering. It wasn’t just the heat of the sun, but the high humidity that made you sweat even if you stood still. It was not unlike the stifling summer heat of Korea during the rainy season.굿모닝토토 주소
Dan Petrescu started Park Jae-yong up top against Ryan City. Moon Sun-min and Lee Dong-joon played on the wings, with Lee Soo-bin and Amano Jun providing firepower one space back. Baek Seung-ho protected the back four as a defensive midfielder, while Jung Woo-jae, Koo Ja-ryong, Jung Tae-wook, and Choi Cheol-soon played in defense. Jeonbuk’s goalkeeping gloves were worn by Jeong Min-ki.
Lion City was objectively outgunned. They are the underdogs in the AFC Champions League and are aiming for a round of 16 upset. From the beginning of the first half, they kept a five-back formation and aimed for the space in the back of Jeonbuk, which was elevated. It was a natural progression for Jeonbuk to dominate ball possession and initiative.
Jeonbuk took the initiative, but failed to take the lead. They were unable to attack the Ryan City defense, which bounced the ball bouncily. Even when they tried to open up the sky with an early cross or break through the dense defense with a one-two pass, the Ryan City formation was not shaken.
Instead, it was Ryan City who took advantage of their chances. In the 21st minute of the first half, they had one threatening counterattack. They took a shot at the Jeonbuk goal, sending chills down the spine of goalkeeper Jung Min-ki. The threat continued when the ball went to Djivkovic. The calculation of playing a long ball and releasing the ball to Zivkovic with a second ball was correct. The Jeonbuk defense was unfocused and didn’t handle the ball properly. The central defense pair failed to control Djivkovic and eventually conceded the goal.
The second half was no different. Needing an equalizer, Jeonbuk pressed harder, but Lion City counterattacked with ease. Eight minutes after the second half kickoff whistle, Jeonbuk fell behind again. This time, it was Djivkovic. He sent a chill down Jeonbuk’s spine by hitting the underside of the post, and then calmly finished off a ball from Shawal on the counter-attack to complete his multi-goal haul.
We were out of breath in the humid climate, and our opponents had gone up by two goals. A change of pace was needed, but the door to Ryan City was firmly closed. In their haste, they kept their attacking patterns simple. The more Jeonbuk approached impatiently, the calmer Ryan City was.
When they got a chance in the 35th minute, they quickly counterattacked, centered on Djivkovic. It was a little less precise, but it was enough to put pressure on Jeonbuk, who were down by two goals. Even when Jeonbuk tried to exploit cramped spaces with penetrating passes, a foot came out of nowhere and cleared it away.
Just before the end of regulation time, Ryan City missed a penalty kick opportunity after a foul in the box. Gustavo stepped up to take the PK but sent the ball into the air. Gustavo complained of muscle pain after the penalty kick. Petrescu had already used up all his substitutes, so he had to try to find a goal with one less man.
The tide never turned and Jeonbuk ended up losing. “It wasn’t what we wanted,” Petrescu told reporters after the game. Everything didn’t go the way we wanted. Ryan City played the soccer they needed to play. It was a game that didn’t go our way.”
It’s understandable. The hot and humid Southeast Asian weather is not easy for players used to playing in Korea. Ulsan Hyundai, who played a day earlier, traveled to Johor and lost 1-2.
While Ulsan may have been demotivated after their early victory, Jeonbuk may have had their sights set on an FA Cup runner-up finish and a tough league race. The grueling schedule of the FA Cup final on top of the league schedule also increased the fatigue level of the squad.
“It’s natural to be demoralized after losing a final,” said Petrescu. It was an upset. We need to find a way to turn it around.” “The fact that Ryan City’s home pitch is an artificial surface rather than a natural one also had a big impact. It is questionable that artificial turf is allowed in the prestigious ACL,” he complained.
Jeonbuk is a league title contender. Even if they have a slow start this season, they still want to retain and bring in national team players. They need to find a way to overcome any difficult situation and get through it. Against Ryan City, they had a frustrating performance and only had two shots on target. Our shooting accuracy was very low at 22%. They have always struggled on the road in Southeast Asia, but this is a question mark for Jeonbuk.
When asked about the lackluster performance, Petrescu said, “We played on artificial turf and the team’s morale was down. It’s possible that the artificial turf was a factor in the defeat.”
Baek Seung-ho, who wore the captain’s armband, had a different opinion. He wasn’t paraphrasing Petrescu, but when asked about artificial turf, he said, “We don’t need to think about the FA Cup runner-up. We have to focus on the league and the ACL. We didn’t adapt well to the artificial surface. The opponents had the same conditions. I don’t want to say we lost because of the artificial surface.”
There were differences in terms of kicking and bounds, but it was something they had to adapt to and overcome. “Our concentration was lacking,” said Baek Seung-ho. I think the players were tired and had a hard time concentrating. Jeonbuk should have communicated and overcome difficult situations. In the remaining games, we need to focus and strengthen our mental strength instead of thinking that it will be difficult.”
Jeonbuk will travel to Incheon on the 12th. After the hot and humid conditions, they will play in winter weather. A win is the only way to overcome the negativity surrounding the team. Coach Petrescu said, “The only way is to win,” and Baek Seung-ho said, “I’m reflecting. I’m sorry to the fans. From the Incheon game, we will forget the defeat and play a good game so that the fans will be satisfied.”
“It wasn’t what we wanted. We had injuries on the pitch and during the game. There were also fatigue complaints from the players. Everything didn’t go our way. Ryan City hadn’t played an official game in a long time. They played fresh, but they played the soccer they needed to play. It was an uneven game.”
He made a substitution in the first 30 minutes and two more at the start of the second half. Were the three early substitutions a starting lineup mistake?
“The 30-minute substitution was due to Jung Woo-jae’s injury. The halftime substitution was Baek Seung-ho’s muscle injury. Gustavo went off with an injury in the 90th minute. In soccer, it’s normal to use up all your substitutes in that time. I don’t think it was a miss.”
The team has been in a bad mood lately. What should be done?
“After losing the final, it’s natural for team morale to drop. It was an upset, so the aftermath is even worse. It’s not the players’ fault. We fought back as hard as we could. We have to find a way to turn things around.”
They were expected to cruise in Group F. But it’s not what you expected. How do you see Group F?
“I’m not surprised. There are no easy teams in Group F. This is ACL. The quality of the foreigners and Singaporeans playing for Lion City is high. Most of them are national team players. Same with (Hong Kong) Kitsch. All the other teams in Group F are the same. We’re coming off an FA Cup defeat, we’re here after a long flight of six hours, we’re playing on a short turnaround, and we’re tired. It was not an easy result.”
“We don’t have much time. We have another six-hour flight to Korea. We don’t have much time before Incheon. We need to recover quickly and well. The only way to turn the tide is to win. The most important thing in soccer is to win.