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Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Incheon United FC

A ten-man Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors found their efforts in vein as there lead was snatched from them in the dying minutes by Pohang Steelers. (Photo Credit: Steelers.co.kr)
A ten-man Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors found their efforts in vein as there lead was snatched from them in the dying minutes by Pohang Steelers. (Photo Credit: Steelers.co.kr)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors were left deflated after letting their one goal advantage slip in the final minutes away to Pohang Steelers. Sunday’s game saw the boys from Jeonju look to make amends for their disappointing midweek collapse but a combination of lacklustre finishing and a consecutive red card for Kim Chang-soo meant they were unable to hold on for all three points.

Admittedly, this was the first game I have missed all season due to prior commitments, so preview duties were handed over to our Pohang Steelers columnist Park Sun-ho who had much more success at second guessing Choi Kang-hee’s line-up than I previously had. Continuing his heavy rotation policy, the Jeonbuk manager made seven changes from the side that lost to became Binh duong midweek, also opting for a stronger line-up than we have seen away from home this season. Most notable was the return of marquee acquisition Kim Bo-kyung, who had been sidelined since sustaining an injury against Jiangsu Suning at the start of March.

Sunday's game saw seven changes to the starting line-up from the team who lost to Becamex Binh Duong
(Image generated using the Line-Up 11 app)
Watching the highlights, it is clear that Jeonbuk’s performance notably improved since Wednesday evening. They created plenty of opportunities with cutting build-up play from the likes of Lopes and Lee Jae-sung and would have lead by an insurmountable score if they were playing rugby union, with the away side's finishing seeming to trouble the crowd a lot more than the Pohang keeper. Fortunately, reliable goalscorer Lee Dong-gook once again kept his nerve, driving in an unstoppable volley around the hour mark.

They were unable to see out the game with this lead however as Kim Chang-soo conspired to make sure he has some extended time off by adding to the red card he collected in the ACL midweek. This time the defender can have no complaints as he went into a dangerous sliding tackle with a boot raised that struck Jung Won-jin's knee. Kim rightly was shown a direct red card and will now likely miss the next three matches, including an important fixture to Seongnam next Saturday.

Reduced to ten men, Motors were unable to hold their nerve, and when Shim Dong-woon received the ball in the box in the 89th minute, his turn and strike found its way past the Jeonbuk keeper, breaking the traveling supporters' hearts. 

Come Wednesday, Jeonbuk will most likely rest more players with an eye to Saturday’s game with Seongnam, as well as a now crucial away tie to FC Tokyo in the ACL. Therefore, some of the players who lost in Vietnam will most likely find themselves reinstated with possible playing time for Kim Bo-kyung as he continues his return from injury. I would expect to see the likes of Erik Paartalu, Lee Jong-ho and Kim Shin-wook in the initial eleven, as well as an appearance from Han Kyo-won who put in a good performance against Binh Duong and normally would have done enough to have earned some playing time on Sunday.

While his team selection’s have often not been effective this season, Choi Kang-hee seems insistent on his rotation policy for now, telling Yonhap News that “We have to save our energy as much as we can before we travel to Japan”, highlighting that because of the now suspended Kim Chang-soo, his defenders will have to play more games. 

This being said though, he has not seemed bothered by playing time for his defender before, starting Kim Chang-soo in seven out of eight games in all competitions thus far, in addition to time with the national team. Maybe he should have been rotated…

Incheon United

Gutted: After initially fighting back from two goals down, Incheon United were still unable to find their first points of the season against a strong Seongnam side. (Photo Credit: Incheon United FC Official Facebook)
Gutted: After initially fighting back from two goals down, Incheon United were still unable to find their first points of the season against a strong Seongnam side. (Photo Credit: Incheon United FC Official Facebook)
I think it is safe to say Incheon United have not had the best of starts, facing two Champions League teams in Pohang Steelers and FC Seoul, a Champions League place contender in Seongnam and an improving Jeju United, and losing to all of them. In Jeonbuk they face yet another ACL team and, of course, the reigning champions, before playing Suwon Bluewings on their home turf this Saturday. Based on those results and fixtures alone, you would have to be fairly optimistic if you thought Incheon could come away with something from their trip down to Jeonju.

Yet, this may very well be perhaps there best time to verse Jeonbuk. The champions have yet to find their stride this year and, as mentioned above, they will most likely rotate heavily yet again. Incheon put up an encouraging fight against Seongnam last Saturday, coming back from two goals down to draw level, only to have the efforts deemed pointless almost immediately as Seongnam retook the lead through a defensive error and ran out 3-2 winners. If they can show some of the same determination at the Jeonju World Cup Stadium this Wednesday, then they could claim their first point (or even points) of the season.

Incheon have suffered heavily from players leaving the club in the winter, and their replacements have either not been good enough or have yet to find their feet. While John Emanuelson has covered this to a much greater extent in his match preview of their game against FC Seoul, I will quickly recap a few of his points. 

Incheon were defensively sound last season, largely thanks to the likes of now-FC Seoul player Kim Won-sik and our site's 2015 Defender of the year (and embarrassingly this year's predicted winner), Matej Jonic. However, with Kim Won-sik now departed, and inexperienced talent replacing him, Jonic has made a few glaring errors at the start of this campaign and the team seemed to have lost the resoluteness at the back that has previously steered them clear of relegation. Having already shown they are suspect to set pieces Jeju and crosses this season, the thought of facing a towering Kim Shin-wook and Erik Paartalu may not be filling them with confidence.

Up front, the likes of Kevin Oris (who eventually found himself on the scoresheet against Seongnam after multiple failed attempts, including one humorous chance where he missed the ball completely and kicked the defender) and ex-Jeonbuk attacker Song Je-heon (who made his first start of the campaign for Incheon on Saturday) will look to provide a nuisance to a Jeonbuk defence lacking their Korean national team player through suspension. 


Wednesday ultimately pits a team who should be scoring loads against a team who cannot stop conceding. Then again, Jeonbuk have not exactly plugged all the gaps in their leaky defence either this season. Unlike against FC Seoul or Seongnam, Incheon are in with more of a shout of holding Jeonbuk, especially if they can find a goal themselves. 

However, Jeonbuk's 100% home form does suggest otherwise and the players rotated into this squad by the Jeonbuk manager will most likely want to take this opportunity to stake their claim for more minutes as well as make amends for last week's defeat. With the likes of Han Kyo-won and Lee Jong-ho desperate to make their mark, and being only two of a few players who can hold their high from the Binh Duong game, Incheon United may find it difficult to hold them back. Furthermore, Kim Shin-wook is also in desperate need of some obliging opponents to add to his Jeonbuk account and the visitors are one of the few teams who may be able to provide just that.

FIFA Predictions

In lack of actual points for his team this season, our Incheon United columnist Marc Guay has been simulating each of their games using FIFA 16 to see if they can do better than in reality. While I already enjoy his posts, I am particularly eager to see what he comes up with as he takes on Jeonbuk. 

Marc's preview can be seen by clicking here.

Predicted Scoreline: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 3-1 Incheon United

Have your say

Who do you think will be victorious in Jeonju tomorrow? Vote in our Twitter poll above or leave your comments below.


  1. Against Seoul it felt like Incheon surrendered. I can't imagine them being relegated tho, but I said the same about Busan last year.

  2. I have to say that your prediction is probably more accurate.

    1. I don't know, you seem to have nailed Jeonbuk's defensive frailty aspect rather well.


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