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AFC Recap: New Faces Galore as Jeonbuk Edge Past Tokyo

Kim Shin-wook's first attempt at goal in the Jeonbuk FC jersey as he makes his debut against FC Tokyo
Jeonbuk debutant Kim Shin-wook towers over the FC Tokyo defence for a close range header.
(Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
An impressive 15,155 people came out in force on this cold February evening to cheer on Jeonbuk in their first competitive game of 2016, their second ever highest attendance for a group stage match. With plenty of new talent making their first appearance in the green jersey, it seemed a just cause for celebration.

Six players of the starting eleven were all recent acquisitions and making their first competitive debut. Defenders Lim Jong-eun and Kim Chang-soo, midfielders Kim Bo-kyung and Erik Paartalu, and attackers Ricardo Lopes and Ko Moo-yeol all made it into Jeonbuk's starting line up. The player everyone had come to see though, the much talked-about Kim Shin-wook, started on the bench.

With the new players looking energetic, the game started at a reasonable enough tempo with chances such as Kim Bo-kyung's free kick and Ricardo Lopes' header going agonisingly wide.

FC Tokyo however did not sit back, making sure Jeonbuk's newly assembled back line were fairly tested. The Japanese side pressed well for the initial twenty minutes whilst Jeonbuk's new boys were still trying to find their feet.

It was Jeonbuk who were to break the deadlock, taking control of the game through a Ko Moo-yeol strike on the stroke of half time. While the headlines before the game may have been about Kim Shin-wook, it was the 25 year-old striker recently signed from Pohang who dealt the first blow, scoring on his debut with a cool, slotted finish beyond keeper Yota Akimoto.

After the break, FC Tokyo pressed for an equaliser, missing a number of opportunities to get them back in the game. Midfielder Takuji Yonemoto thought he had equalised in the 55th minute when his shot rattled against the cross bar. Shortly after, Jeonbuk keeper Kwoun Sun-tae made sure to further remind us of his last season's heroics, ensuring Kento Hashimoto's shot was tipped clear.

Perhaps it was a lack of defensive options, or the need to rack up significant goal difference in what looks set to be a tight a group, but Jeonbuk sought to put the game beyond any doubt by removing debutants Lopes and Kim Bo-kyung to make way for newly-arrived attackers Lee Jong-ho and Kim Shin-wook.

The arrival of Kim Shin-wook has possibly been over anticipated, no more so than by myself, but there was genuine excitement to be seen in the stands as one the league's top scorers arrived onto the pitch. Each touch was cheered and applauded, and when he leapt up to meet a cross just outside of the six yard box, everyone thought the goal was a mere formality. Unfortunately it was not to be a scoring debut for "The Wookie", yet early signs would suggest he will prove to be a quality signing for the team.

It was left to an older head to put Tokyo to the sword. Lee Jae-sung won the ball back in FC Tokyo's box to slide through a pass to an unmarked Lee Dong-gook who curled his shot into the bottom right corner. He may be 36, but he is still the most reliable goal threat Jeonbuk have in their ranks.

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors celebrate Lee Dong-gook's goal against FC Tokyo
Mobbed by his teammates, Lee Dong-gook commences his scoring campaign for 2016.
(Photo credit: Howard Cheng)

FC Tokyo fought back and caught a napping Jeonbuk defence off guard when Abe strode through on goal to give the Japanese side a lifeline. A comeback was not meant to be however and while Jeonbuk can consider themselves lucky in some instances, this was a hard-earned win which could prove crucial as the competition continues.

Final Score: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2 - 1 FC Tokyo

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