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Recap: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 1-1 Incheon United

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors' Kim Shin-wook protests for a weak penalty claim against Incheon United as his side labours to yet another uninspiring draw (Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors' Kim Shin-wook protests for a weak penalty claim against Incheon United as his side labours to yet another uninspiring draw (Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
And so the rot continues. The reckless abandon to which Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors Manager Choi Kang-hee selects his squad maintained it's detrimental effect on their on-pitch performance, providing K-League strugglers Incheon United with their first point of the season.

It is getting beyond a joke now. I predicted this game would see a weaker team fielded given that bigger fixtures against Seongnam and Tokyo await in the next seven days, yet the manager stunned everyone by selecting an eleven that, on paper and with all due respect to Incheon, should have walked this tie. With only four changes to the line-up that drew 1-1 to Pohang, a low amount given his track record, the manager opted for what should have been no match for the league's lowest side.

The starting elevens for both Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Incheon United FC. (Photo generated using the Line Up 11 app)
The starting elevens for both Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Incheon United FC. (Photo generated using the Line Up 11 app)
Kim Shin-wook was officially declared on the club's Facebook to be playing in an attacking midfield role. I do not know on what planet Kim Shin-wook can be considered an effective attacking midfielder given his apparent inability to run and pass, but the manager deemed it necessary to at least post him as playing there, giving the impression of a contemporary tactic to the home fans. In reality, he served more as a support striker in what appeared to be a 4-4-2, which was further confirmed by the television coverage.

The line-up also saw Kim Bo-kyung and Lee Jae-sung take up the midfield mantle, with the latter restrained from attacking duties and acting more as a defensive midfielder than further up where he could be far more damaging. The wings were occupied by Leonardo, who has been playing well recently, and Ko Moo-yeol, who is still dining out on his first performance in a Jeonbuk shirt against FC Tokyo.

The defence saw the now on vacation Kim Chang-soo (due to his suspension in all competitions thanks to consecutive red cards), replaced by Choi Jae-soo on the left wing. The rest of the defence saw Lim Jong-eun, Choi Kyu-baek and Choi Chul-soon reprising their roles as two centre backs and a right wing back respectively.

With this line-up highlights a problem I have. The manager insists on playing his most attacking, and expensive team at home (FC Seoul withstanding) in almost a bid to please the home fans, yet decides to rotate heavily for the away days. I know I cannot beat both the rotation and non-rotation drums, but given the managers recent admission he plans to do so, then a logical switch in personnel against the league's weakest team, in a bid to rest the "key" players for the two crucial upcoming games, would make more sense.

After their spirited attempts at a comeback against Seongnam, Incheon opted to play a slightly different line-up, making four changes. The team chosen saw Lee Tae-hee (GK), Cho Byung-kuk (DF), Park Se-jik (MF), and Kim Dae-kyung (FW) included in the starting eleven.

Jeonbuk were found out by a very narrow and defensive Incheon side. It may be tactics 101, but a narrow defence often requires stretching out wide to create space for the strikers, not attacking play brought inside. However, the eleven seemed dead set against this, rarely opting for the overlap which would have caused there defence to move out, and allowed for difficult-to-defend crosses to be played into the box from the byline.

Rather than adapt though, the manager naively placed his hopes on the likes of Leonardo's crosses and Kim Shin-wook's towering presence to do all that was needed. Whilst Leonardo once again played well, the Wookie unsurprisingly did not live up to the reputation he built at Ulsan as he continuously failed to have any impact on proceedings before being taken off in the second half for Lee Jong-ho.

Kim Shin-wook is another player in my cross hairs. While I admit his tally last season for Ulsan was impressive, and I did naively deem him my "Korean National Teamer to Watch", he looks less and less at home in a neon green shirt. His control lacks considerably, and his inability to create hinders the whole teams attacking movement. He has almost been purchased because of his reputation, rather than with regard to how he would fit into the squad, which is neither good for the player nor the team.

To continue with this criticism, perhaps one of the more promising chances of a dull first half saw Kim Shin-wook chase down a ball to the right of a box, with Lee Dong-gook unmarked in the centre, yet the lumbering striker could only a deliver a pass so tame that a defender was able to run back into the box and lay claim to it before it could ever reach the 36 year-old. "The Wookie" shortly followed this by failing to jump for a corner he could have perhaps reached unchallenged, yet opted to fall to the ground for a penalty after the slightest of shirt tugs. It may be a foul, but experience should tell you that referees rarely award these.

The 25th minute saw Incheon's Park Je-sik narrowly miss a header that would have resulted in a certain goal, failing by mere inches to get on the end of a Kevin Oris flick on. The left winger almost immediately returned the favour by crossing a ball in to the unmarked Belgian who's header was off target.

The 32nd minute saw another chance for Oris go narrowly wide as he picked up the ball on the edge of the box but was unable to direct it goalwards. The Jeonbuk defenders standing in front of him may have put him off, but clearly they were not in the mood to close him down quicker seeing as he was unmarked. If he had taken his time, Park Je-sik was completely open to his left and could have caused the home team a larger headache.

It was not until the second half that fans would finally see something of note. Leonardo spurned a chance when he tagged onto the end of a through ball by running through both Incheon's centre backs, knocking the ball to the keeper's right but then failing to hit the ball into an empty net. It was unfortunately his pace and the fact he was falling when he took a swing with his leg to get the ball away that led to such a opportune chance going astray.

With the somewhat predictable introduction of Lopes and Lee Jong-ho for Ko Moo-yeol and Lee Jong-ho respectively, the manager hoped to inject some life into the stalling champions. Lopes's arrival into proceeding did seem to spark something in Motors, but a fantastic opportunity for him also went begging in the 65th minute. A pass in from Leonardo saw Lopes try to take on three defenders before placing his shot across the face of the goal and inches wide.

Jeonbuk looked to have undeservedly taken all three of the points when Lee Dong-gook fired in an 83rd minute goal that put Saturday's thunderbolt against Pohang in the shade. A cross into the box from Leonardo met with the head of Lee Jong-ho who nodded across to the 36 year-old. The seasoned striker, somehow unmarked despite having two defenders supposedly following him, controlled the ball with his chest before turning and volleying into the top-right corner. The subsequent celebrations were filled more with relief than jubilance as it seemed that the struggling champions would keep their 100% home record intact.

Lee Dong-gook celebrates his spectacular opener against Incheon United (Photo Credit: Howard Cheng)
Incheon United were not to feel sorry for themselves as they pressed back, breaking supporters hearts with an injury time equaliser from an off-the-bench Song Si-woo. A long ball from deep in the Incheon half has headed on by Kevin Oris and into the path of the 22 year-old striker. With two centre-backs in his way, the young striker, making only his second ever professional appearance, dragged the ball left and unleashed a strike from the edge of the area into the top corner of Kwoun Sun-tae's net. The scenes from the small number of fans who made trip were joyous as they finally saw their team claim an impressive point away from home.

Incheon's Song Si-woo celebrates his team's deserved last minute equaliser against Jeonbuk in front of the home support  (Photo Credit: Incheon United Official Facebook Page)
Incheon's Song Si-woo celebrates his team's deserved last minute equaliser against Jeonbuk in front of the home support
(Photo Credit: Incheon United Official Facebook Page)
Overall, It was another bad day at the office for Jeonbuk as they went their third game (in all competitions) without tasting victory. This should not take anything away from Incheon however who, despite having an incredibly difficult start, had been written off as certainties for relegation. The resilience they showed against Seongnam in an ultimately fruitless comeback should have served as a warning to the North Jeolla team, yet it was not one they heeded as they constantly struggled to break them down. This Incheon team will face Suwon Bluewings at the weekend, in what hopefully will be the last of a testing run for a while. If they can continue to show spirit like this, then they may still be in with a shout of holding down their place in the Classic league.

Jeonbuk face high-flyers Seongnam on Sunday, a team who also found themselves on the end of a surprising draw on Wednesday. With FC Seoul now taking over the pole position, both of these teams will be requiring a win to ensure they keep up with the pace. Unfortunately for Jeonbuk, this is already looking more of a challenge with each passing fixture.

Final Score: Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 1-1 Incheon United.

Highlights

If you're either an Incheon fan in need of celebrating or a Jeonbuk supporter intent on depressing yourself further, highlights can be viewed on SPOTV below, or by clicking here.



Have Your Say

Did you see the match? Still confused by the manager's constant rotation? Perhaps you feel Incheon United deserved more than a point? Leave your opinion on the match in the comments below.

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