Jeonbuk Hyundai saved the last bit of pride.
Jeonbuk advanced to Final A with a 2-0 victory over FC Seoul in the 33rd round of the Hana OneQ K League 2023 at Seoul World Cup Stadium on Monday.
Jeonbuk, which was seventh in the Final B standings prior to the match, picked up three valuable points on the road to finish the regular round in fourth place with 49 points. They have the same number of points as fifth-place Daegu FC but are ahead on goal difference and one point ahead of sixth-place Incheon United (48 points). Seoul (47 points) dropped to seventh place and dramatically qualified for Final A.
It’s also a huge accomplishment for the club, as it avoided a drop to Final B for the first time. Jeonbuk has always been in Split A since the split system was introduced in 2012. It would have been a huge blow to their pride if Jeonbuk, the absolute No. 1 team in the K League, had fallen to Split B. The team’s victory over Seoul was a huge boost. The victory over Seoul saved the day.
While they dramatically averted disaster, they still have a long way to go. The hype around Jeonbuk being in Final A is definitely unnatural. It’s a fitting ending for a team that has always challenged for the title.
At this point, it’s hard to challenge Ulsan Hyundai. Ulsan has 67 points, 13 points ahead of Jeonbuk. With five games to go, it’s safe to say that an upset is out of the question. Jeonbuk is also nine points behind the second-place Pohang Steelers (58 points). A realistic goal is third place. Currently, the third-place team is Gwangju FC (54 points). Four points isn’t a lot, but it’s not an insurmountable gap either. There’s still time to catch up with them in the final round. If they finish in the top three of the K League 1 this season, they’ll be able to qualify for Asia in 2024-2025. Winning the FA Cup would be easy, but the league results are not out of the question, which is why coach Dan Petrescu said, “We will go as high as we can go. We want to win as many games as possible.”
The tide has turned. The victory over Seoul diluted the negativity. In addition, the two-week break from the A-Match could be a big boost for Jeonbuk. It’s a chance to clean up the mess and improve organization.
The team is returning five players (Baek Seung-ho, Park Jin-seop, Song Min-kyu, Park Jae-yong, Kim Jung-hoon) who were sent to the Asian Games. They are physically exhausted from the Asian Games, but the A-Match break will allow them to recover and be at 100% capacity for the final round.
“Our current ranking is not where we want to be, nor do our fans. Now that we’re in Final A, 스포츠토토 we have to play well to go higher. We need to work harder and improve. We have two weeks. We will use it well and improve our performance.”