Jeonbuk Hyundai’s 2-0 home win over Ulsan Hyundai in the K League 1 on the 3rd was significant for a number of reasons.
It goes without saying that the two teams are rivals, with Hyundai being one of the biggest names in the K League and having been in a ‘two-horse race’ for several years.
While it’s great to win a rivalry game, it’s even better for Jeonbuk’s players and fans to see it as a sign of rebirth.
Jeonbuk boasts the most wins in the league (nine), but after parting ways with coach Kim Sang-sik, they have struggled in every round under head coach Kim Doo-hyun.
They’ve dropped to 10th place, so every game is a slippery slope as the more defeats they pile up, the less likely they are to return to the top.
Although Jeonbuk had picked up two wins and two draws since the 1-1 draw against Seoul on the 5th of last month, a loss against Ulsan would have left them stuck in the bottom half of the standings, as they had just lost to Pohang (0-1).
A goalless draw would have seen them slip back to 10th place, having climbed as high as seventh place (21-19 on goal difference), behind ninth-placed Suwon FC (18-18 on goal difference), who held fellow Suwon Samseong (21-19 on goal difference).
There were other reasons why acting head coach Kim Doo-hyun was so happy after the game, saying, “It means more than three points for us.”
“It was a matter of pride, not only for the fans but also for the players. “It’s a tough situation in some ways because we’re nearly 20 points behind,” he said, “but I think it’s important to ride the wave from a rebounding position.
Kim emphasised that the defending champions, who have accumulated 38 points after their opening 16 games, have a double-digit lead over second-placed Jeju United (28 points).
In addition to staving off the worst-case scenario of slipping further down the standings, the victory was described as “momentum” to move up the table.
In fact, the Jeonbuk game was the first time Ulsan was held scoreless this season. It was also the first time Ulsan lost by more than two goals.
The players also hailed the win as a confidence booster for the team.
Cho Kyu-sung, who opened the scoring for Ulsan in the 38th minute with a dynamic ‘diving header’, said: “With Ulsan in first place, the gap between us and them was big. But a lot of fans came, and Jeonbuk’s pride was on the line.”
Japanese player Jun Amano, who set up Cho Kyu-sung’s goal with a sharp left-footed cross in his first game back in a month, also said, “This win is really big for us,” adding, “I will try harder to help the team rebound.”
Kim is looking to hand over the reins to a new coach while the team is still on the upswing.
Jeonbuk has decided to hand over the reins to CFR Cluj (Romania) coach Dan Petrescu and is working on the final details.
“I don’t know, but I think (the new coach) will come during the A-match break in June,” said Kim, who added, “I hope we can make good use of this atmosphere and continue our winning streak and improve until the new coach arrives.” 메이저놀이터
Even after the game ended, the sound of cheers and support from the home fans, who were enjoying the afterglow of the victory, echoed around Jeonju World Cup Stadium for some time.
27,097 spectators visited Jeonju Castle, the first time more than 20,000 spectators entered the stadium in 1,556 days since the match against Daegu on 1 March 2019.
Prior to this match, Jeonju’s highest attendance this season was 19,660 against Samsung Electronics in Suwon on 5 March, nearly 8,000 fewer than the Ulsan match.