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Preview: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors vs Seongnam FC

Kim Bo-kyung's gradual return from injury was not enough to inspire Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to beat Incheon United FC | Photo Credit Howard Cheng
Kim Bo-kyung's gradual return from injury was not enough to inspire Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to beat Incheon United FC
(Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with bottom of the table Incheon United was hardly surprising given the champions form of late. Even when they win, it seems like a struggle. For nearly 80 minutes the crowd were treated to minor chances and an abundance of talent unable to figure out how to break down a team widely-tipped for relegation. It was laughable. Fortunately, a Lee Dong-gook wonder goal (who else?), followed by a dramatic injury time equaliser for Incheon, saw that the supporters did not go home empty-handed, even if they had to witness a strong line-up against a troubled team create very little and come away with a point.

I went much more into depth during my review of the previous game so I will not repeat myself too much, but to summarise, Jeonbuk persisted with trying to break down a tight defence by crossing in balls with the hope of tall forward Kim Shin-wook to find himself on the end of it. It will not surprise you to know that he often did not.

Going by the manager’s usual rotation policy though (as in it is normally very unusual), predicting this weekend’s line-up will prove difficult once again. It was thought the manager may field a weaker team against Incheon given the importance of this game, and the one next week against FC Tokyo. However, either he has acknowledged that his vast rotations have not been working and will continue to play a similar line-up on Saturday, or he is placing all his eggs in an ACL shaped basket.

If he is to rotate again though, expect the likes of Han Kyo-won, Lee Jong-ho, Luiz and Lopes to return. Australian Erik Paartalu has not featured in the last two match day squads since his questionable half-time substitution against Binh Duong, and has not been seen since. With any luck, he will be reintroduced on Saturday as Jeonbuk could do with his experience against a strong Seongnam team.

Regardless of who is eventually chosen, Jeonbuk are struggling at this moment in time. Choi Kang-hee appears to have little idea who his best eleven is, what formation he should employ and how to maintain a healthy rotation when actually necessary. It is almost as if he has bought too many players.

Seongnam FC

Seongnam's Hwang Ui-jo struggled to convert his chances in Wednesday's 0-0 draw with Jeonnam Dragons
(Photo Credit: SeongnamFC.com)
Until Wednesday, Seongnam had been occupying the league’s summit, holding off the likes of FC Seoul and Jeonbuk. A surprising 0-0 against a struggling Jeonnam Dragons side though has seen them slip into second, with title favourites FC Seoul taking there rightful place.

Things did not seem to work out against a well organised Jeonnam side. Korean national team striker Hwang Ui-jo found himself unable to add to his season tally of two goals (both against a struggling Incheon). He most notably hit the post with a long range effort, taking the ball from napping Jeonnam defence and firing. He did look dangerous though and will most likely be itching to prove himself against the champions come Saturday.

Seongnam also currently boast the leagues going top goalscorer in Thiago. He also came close to increasing his recored on Wednesday, latching on to a well executed pass from Hwang Ui-jo, only to side-foot his shot to the keeper.

Whilst Jeonbuk on paper should be there toughest test this season, Seongnam have already gone about recording wins against Motors’ fellow ACL competitors Suwon Bluewings and Pohang Steelers. Along with Jeonbuk, they have also conceded the least amount of goals so far this league campaign and are also undefeated, with Jeonbuk’s well-documented defensive woes predominantly coming in the ACL. Based on current form, Seongnam will be more than a match for the champions, hopefully adding to a thrilling encounter. The Jeonbuk support are in desperate need to see something exciting after midweek's feeble offering.


As like Incheon and Pohang before them, Seongnam are playing Jeonbuk at exactly the right time. What most consider one of Jeonbuk’s strongest line-ups was unable to break down a resolute Incheon defence despite a piece of Lee Dong-gook magic.

Given that a strong line-up has mostly played the last two games, and with a crucial ACL tie with FC Tokyo next week, it would not be shocking to see even further rotation from the Jeonbuk manager. It would certainly be surprising to see a weaker side fielded for the likes of Seongnam, but definitely not shocking. Nothing about the manager’s selections are shocking anymore.

Seongnam FC are already proving this season that they are up for the challenge of ACL qualification. Turning over Jeonbuk on their own turf will certainly send out a message to their rivals.

Predicted Score: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 0-2 Seongnam FC

Have Your Say

Who will be leaving with all three points on Saturday? Vote in our Twitter poll and leave your opinions and predictions in the comments below.


  1. From age 9 to 12 I played youth soccer in the U.S. and there was a rule that everybody had to play. Maybe Choi strives to bring that brand of egalitarianism to the team, hence the rotation policy or he could just be clueless.

    1. I prefer to think its done a lottery system, or a randomiser app on his smartphone.

      Choi Kang-hee's Line-Up Bingo would be a great pre-match game in my opinion. Knock back a Soju shot for every incorrect name you pick. I wouldn't make it to kick-off!


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