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Writer's Chat: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors Vs Daejeon Citizen Preview

Sunday sees top face bottom with Daejeon making the trip to North Jeolla-do to take on the current K League Champions Jeonbuk. With both teams experiencing contrasting seasons Daejeon contributor Paul Neat and Jeonbuk contributor Lex Nande discuss their respective teams' trials and tribulations.

Paul asks, Lex answers

Paul Neat: Jeonbuk continue to strongly march towards regaining their title, what has been the key to success this season?

Lex Nande: I think that it was a quick start and steady march. If we look back over the season the big reason we are above teams like Seoul and Pohang is cause we started much stronger. Therefore, our key was a strong start. We haven't been anything special in a long time in my opinion.

PN: Should Jeonbuk do what is widely expected - regain the title - how far do you think this current Jeonbuk squad can do? Are they Champions League winners material?

LN: Individually we have the talent, but look at our stats over the years and you will see we dropped off pretty bad two thirds of the way through the year. There is stiff competition including the away leg in Japan. If we had got around that, there would have been Gwangzhou waiting for us. That would be a lot harder than any competition from the west. We have been these teams before but can we beat them again in the question. In short, we have the talent; we just don't have the mind set on a consistent basis to believe in them all the way. 

PN: Jeonbuk have scored a large amount of their goals, 31%, in the last 15 minutes. What is this down to? Fitness? Belief?

LN: That’s a lovely stat. I’d like to see the same over the last 10 games in our current run. As you know we didn't come back in Daejeon until the end of the game. I believe it is due to us 'knowing we will score' and waiting for it to happen. There is hardly ever an 'out of the gate' start that is purely to dominate. 

PN: Even at the ripe old age of 36, Lee Dong Gook continues to produce the goods, how has he performed compared to your expectations prior to the season?

LN: He is on par with the expectations. I believe the reason we had Edu was for the goals, and Dong-Gook to play the team leader role. He has done that, but we haven't found our primary goal scorer. Lee Dong-Gook has been in the league and these defenders have learned how to play him. He has the strike, he just needs the set up. 

PN: Edu's departure was a bit of a shock at the time as he was playing regularly and scoring goals. Results since suggest that he hasn't been missed an awful lot but do the stats tell the whole story? Has the team had to adapt their style of play since he left?

LN: Well Eninho was sold for the same reason. There was a team in China with money that was struggling and needed a person that could play ball. Edu went to the 2nd division and that couldn't have been out of passion. There was a high transfer fee for the club and a high salary for the player. At the time Jeonbuk was crushing the league and we probably thought we'd be ok without him. We got comfortable with him there, and now that he is gone, we are trying to find someone who can do what he did instead of changing our style to where it needs to be, a new formation. 

PN: Realistically, Suwon are the only team that could catch Jeonbuk but do you feel that the title is in the bag now more or less?

LN: The title is never in the bag and I wish the players wouldn't play like it is. After talking to a few of them, I understand why the mood is down in Bong-dong (training camp location). With 8 games left, and only up 8 points, Suwon are still within reach. I'd say 4 wins will get us to safety as Suwon haven’t been the strongest either. 

PN: Lastly, even having seen Champions League glory taken away for at least another season, which would you think the Jeonbuk fans would prefer; a second successive league title or the Asian Champions League?

LN: I think there are still a bunch of players, as well as all the fans, that remember the sting of the 2011 AFC loss at home to Al Sadd. If I had to choose, I'd rub all my rabbit's feet for the Asian Champions League, instead of the league games. But at the same time, we went out very easily at Pohang and our line up seemed to suggest that we weren't even interested in the win. I don't like us having this money, talent and support to say that one competition is more important than others.

He asks, I answer

Lex Nande: Daejeon play well against the big clubs, such as Suwon or Jeonbuk. Can they keep that going?

Paul Neat: Daejeon do seem to raise the game and have a good go; plucky is how I would describe them. But, usually they fall flat due to some sort of defensive blunder. Their only wins in the league have been away from home so who knows, stranger things have happened. It depends if Jeonbuk either have an air of complacency about them or take their eyes off the prize. Daejeon are rooted to the foot of the table so perhaps they won't be taken too seriously by those in green.

LN: What was the big reason for the 3 goals against Jeonbuk last time they matched? Why hasn't that happened against every team in the league?
PN: Quite simply Daejeon had a go. Perhaps with the mentality that they had nothing to lose and played without fear they were able to get the ball down and play. Indeed, they took the lead earlier in the season at Jeonju World Cup Stadium so it is clearly not through a lack of endeavour. But, the way that Coach Choi sets his side up invites pressure and when you have players who have been signed from K League Challenge teams, errors are going to be made.

LN: Are the new strikers going to make a change in the offense this season?

PN: It seems that Coach Choi thought that he wasn't able to sort out the leaky back four so wanted to fight fire with fire and simply try to get his side to score themselves out of trouble. Sadly, other than Wanderson, the rest of the players that have been brought in don't seem to have the quality to perform on a regular basis. But, Seo Myung-Won is back, he scored against Jeonnam at the weekend, maybe he can cause sides problems from now until the end of the season.

LN: Two supporters showed up to Jeonnam last round to support the Citizens; is all hope lost? 

PN: Well, the reason for the no-show was because the official supporters' bus was cancelled due to lack of interest. All hope had been lost a long time ago, realistically. But, the location of Jeonnam is such that it is really difficult to get to without a direct bus. I think most of the realistic supporters have known since the early stages of the season that Daejeon were fighting against the tide.

LN: Daejeon is locked into the bottom round of the split already. Do you see them getting out of the bottom spot before the end of the year? What would that take?

PN: Quite simply it’d take a miracle. Realistically, Daejeon are relegated. It would take a significant upturn in results immediately and for the likes of Busan and Ulsan to lose the vast majority of their remaining games. Sadly for Daejeon, Busan and Ulsan have been able to pick up points here and there. That's the difference between them and Daejeon who don't seem to know how to put a string of results together. I just hope Coach Choi has a plan in place for next season as he can’t have expected to keep Daejeon up. He was given a three year contract so I suspect he has already got an idea of his squad for next season. That’s what it’s all about now.

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