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AFC Recap: Fans Confused by Coverage Whilst Jiangsu Beat Jeonbuk

Jeonbuk Hyundai defender chases down Jiangsu Suning's Jo in the AFC Champions League group fixture.
Jeonbuk Hyundai defender Kim Hyung-il chases down Jiangsu Suning's Jo in the Champions League group fixture.
(Photo credit: The-AFC.com)
Do you remember Men In Black 3? Of course you don't. It was probably the weakest of an unnecessary trilogy and coincidentally serves as its own neuraliser, forcing you to forget its 106 minute running time in a flash.

However, rather than recall the whole movie, do you remember Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones (Agents J and K respectively) wandering into a Chinese restaurant and being directed towards the kitchen? The next scene immediately cuts to a giant alien fish throwing Agent J through the restaurant window, who then has to resort to ripping it's heart out with his bare hands to bring the situation under control. The audience is left shocked and bemused to what has just happened.

No? You remember something more, don't you? Perhaps a five minute fight scene?

That is all I can recollect however. I remember that helpful Chinese waitress pointing Agent J to what clearly must have been some trouble out back. I am so pleased she was there to help our heroes. As I looked through my 3D lenses around that Hangzhou cinema in which I was sat, the audience and I, whilst confused, just accepted it and moved on with the story.

Having spent just over four years of my life studying and working in China, having movies awkwardly cut so as not to offend Chinese audiences is something I have become accustomed to. Last night however, was the first time I witnessed it live in action, during the Champions League coverage of Jiangsu Suning versus Jeonbuk Hyundai.

To say it had been edited favourably for Chinese audiences is admittedly a stretch. I cannot imagine Jiangsu fans watching were pleased to find out that, unbeknown to them, there was three minutes of the match where the scores were back level. That said, the person responsible did not have one of their best days, and it is fair to say there was definite favouritism towards the home side. An equaliser was left out, required replays of Jeonbuk chances were replaced with replays of Jiangsu celebrating previous goals, and a long show reel of Jiangsu manager Dan Petrescu's acting range detracted from what was actually a thrilling football match.

It's also worth noting that overseas commentators, such as those reporting the game for MBC and SBS Sports in Korea, were also victims, having to rely off the same coverage being relayed to them; a normal and perhaps understandable practice, especially given the competition is only in the group stages. Therefore, ensuring a balanced and well-cut stream of the game that will appeal both sets of fans, as well as people tuning in from other competing nations, is pivotal.

With hindsight though, perhaps the Jeonbuk supporters will not want want reminders of this game any time soon.

Before the kick-off, Choi Kang-hee made the bold choice to start with an all Korean eleven in this fixture. A move which saw last week's solid debutants Lopes and Paartalu benched in favour of Lee Jong-ho and Choi Chul-soon respectively. Lee Jong-ho made his debut from the bench last week and clearly had done enough to impress his manager for a starting berth this time around. 

A third noticeable change saw last week's goal scorer Lee Dong-gook replaced by marquee signing Kim Shin-wook, handing him his first start for Motors. I feel, as none of the players benched played particularly badly, this is an indicator of how Choi Kang-hee expects to keep all his new signings happy, and an idea of what positions maybe open to rotation as the season progresses.

Perhaps, after this game, he will be forced to reconsider.

A fairly uneventful 10 minutes unintentionally culminated in a mix up in the Jeonbuk defence, letting Jiangsu midfielder Wu Xi through on goal only for the ball to be pounced on by keeper Kwoun Sun-tae before he could get his shot away.

Jeonbuk should have heeded that warning. Instead, Jiangsu new boy and record signing Alex Teixeira was allowed acres of space as he galloped down the left wing, cutting inside, and placing a low driven shot from the edge of the box and into the bottom left corner.

An opportunity for an equaliser was afforded to the away team immediately.  An inswinging free kick from Kim Bo-kyung at the left edge of the box was cleared but only as far as the penalty spot where last week's scorer, Ko Moo-yeol, skewed his shot comfortably wide.

The game continued to open up after the initial goal, with Jeonbuk perhaps creating slightly more chances. Lee Ju-yong and Lee Jae-sung both had shots head agonisingly wide, whereas Kim Shin-wook was delivered multiple crosses but failed to convert.

In fairness to Kim Shin-wook, he seemed uncomfortable deployed as a lone target man, with Jeonbuk often reverting to pumping the ball into him with the hope of winning the aerial battle with Jiangsu's defence. The previous week's fixture against FC Tokyo, where he played up front with Lee Dong Gook, was far more effective, allowing him to win the ball and feed it to the seasoned striker. Choi Kang-hee evidently felt the same, removing Lee Jong-ho for Lee Dong-gook around the 50 minute mark, whilst also swapping Lee Ju-yong for attacking midfielder Leonardo.

The opening 15 minutes of the second half saw Jiangsu come out of the gates full of renewed confidence as they looked to see the game to bed quickly. Multiple shots from Ramires and Teixeira failed to hit the target however, whilst a free header from Wu Xi was angled considerably wide.

The 60th minute finally saw Jeonbuk's tactical change begin to reap dividends. A cross into the box met the head of Lee Dong-gook who opted to play it back to Kim Shin-wook. The Wookie returned the favour and Lee Dong-gook opted to head back once again to an unmarked Ko Moo-yeol on the edge of the box who saw his shot parried wide by keeper Zhang Sipeng.

As multiple replays of the keepers save were shown, action resumed with players walking towards the centre of the pitch. Before what happened could be ascertained, a replay was shown, then quickly cut before it came to fruition in order to make way for an altercation between Kim Bo-kyung and Alex Teixeira.

The Jeonbuk midfielder made a clumsy and bookable challenge into the Brazilian, resulting in Teixeira retaliating with an unseen punch to the head, an action that should have led to his dismissal. Jiangsu should consider themselves fortunate.

Moments later, a resulting cross into the Jeonbuk box was met by a towering header from Brazilian striker Jo, apparently doubling Jiangsu's lead.

It was at this point it was realised a mistake had been made in the broadcasting. Once Jo's goal had seen multiple replays, we were finally treated to the corner that was not fully shown before. Three minutes prior, Leonardo's corner was met by a Lim Jong-eun header who in turn played it down for Lee Dong-gook to convert.

With the televised score now updated to 2-1, we discover that Australian defensive midfielder Erik Paartalu has entered play without announcement. Post-match reports point to him replacing Kim Bo-kyung, after his altercation with Teixeira.

Before this can properly be explained to the audience however, Jiangsu scored again. Ramires managed to play the ball through to Wu Xi who converted. He proceeded to celebrate by placing the ball under his shirt, as if to give the impression he was pregnant with an inflatable, spherical baby. I only note this in the report as those responsible for the coverage deemed it amusing enough to replay the celebration two more times instead of replays of the legitimate Jeonbuk chances that followed.

One of these legitimate chances would come from Kim Shin-wook who, upon receiving the ball in the box, placed his shot over the bar when perhaps it would have been easier to score. The striker is still finding his feet in this team, but the weight of expectation is growing considerably, with his every opportunity being overhyped by commentators. Meanwhile, back in Jeonbuk's box, Jo nearly found himself on the scoresheet again, but his goal was disallowed.

The final ten minutes saw Jeonbuk desperately pressing for the equaliser. An 84th minute ball into the box saw the Jiangsu keeper clumsily spill the ball out of play. Leonardo's corner then met with the head of Kim Shin-wook, who's deflected effort saw the back of the net making for a tense finale.

Jiangsu proceeded to repeatedly fall to ground for prolonged amounts of time in a bid to wind the clock down. It was therefore understandable that when it happened for the third time, Jeonbuk continued with play which led to eventual blows. Ramires took particular issue, knocking a Jeonbuk player to the ground and causing a furore. Ramires rightly saw red for his actions, but it was far too late for Jeonbuk to take advantage of their extra player.

Ramires is forced to leave the pitch after being shown red. (Photo credit: The Daily Mail)

I am still not sure I was completely wrong to consider this a winnable game for Jeonbuk. Jiangsu, despite the three goals, did not produce too many attacks that a more confident defence would not have been unable to handle. A win here would have taken them clear in the group and allowing them to focus ahead to their opening day fixture with Seoul. Jeonbuk's defensive lapses, which they showed small glimpses of during the FC Tokyo fixture, are clearly a bigger issue than previously considered. These must be addressed urgently if Jeonbuk are to escape this group and compete once again for the title. With Seoul's Adriano also taking his 2016 goal tally to 7 goals in 2 games yesterday, March 12th is perhaps coming too soon for Choi Kang-hee's men.

Final Score: Jiangsu Suning 3 - 2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

1 comment

  1. I was drifting in parts of the game, so I thought I fell asleep during Jeonbuk's goal and missed it. Censorship- what a laugh.


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