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Jeonbuk was a free hit, but Daejeon need to beat Jeju

Jeonbuk away was a free hit for Daejeon Hana Citizen but the Purples need to beat Jeju United away this Sunday. Daejeon make the short flight to the island looking for their first win of the season but do so having avoided defeat on the opening day, and with a decent recent record against Sunday's hosts.

A sign of just how lofty Daejeon's aspirations have become was how disappointed they were with the draw away to Jeonbuk on the opening day, that's nine-time K League champions and two-time champions of Asia, Jeonbuk. And, even though Daejeon went unbeaten against Jeonbuk last year, it didn't come much tougher than Jeonju Castle on the opening day. 

Daejeon should be proud of how well they played as well. But having led the game from the 11th minute to the 86th, and having hit the crossbar just a couple of minutes before Ahn Hyun-beom buried Jeonbuk's equaliser, it is perhaps understandable that the draw felt like a defeat. But the game was a bit of a free hit.


Jeju United away this Sunday, on the other hand, is a game that Daejeon need to assert themselves in and get a positive result. Lee Min-sung and his team will be using that late Jeonbuk equaliser as motivation.

While conducting a TV interview after the 1-1 draw with Jeonbuk, Lee Soon-min spoke of his disappointment. "It's really such a pity. But, we were away, and Jeonbuk are a very good team to take a point from so we'll take some comfort from that and prepare for the next game.

"Our aim is the same as how the manager has set. We're a team that has to punch our ticket to Asia, we have to be a leading team in K League."

It's no secret that Daejeon Hana Citizen's aim for the 2024 season is to qualify for the AFC Champions League. This level of openness is refreshing; in K League managers can be quite guarded and reluctant to reveal their hand in certain situations. ACL aspirations made public by Lee Min-sing mean an increase in ticket and merchandise sales but it also puts pressure on the team to get off to a good start.

Speaking to the media after the Jeonbuk draw Lee Min-sung said: 

"To be ahead and then not win the game is a pity, I think. But one point for me to be grateful for is that we came away from home and battled well. We'll look back at the goal we conceded and try to get a result without conceding against Jeju."

The message was clear. They weren't happy with the draw and the focus has already turned to Jeju.

In isolation, the Jeonbuk draw was a good result but a win over Jeju would signal a good start to the season. Failure to win means that there's an element of pressure when Gangwon FC visit Purple Arena in Round 3.

Daejeon earned two wins and one draw against Jeju last season

Daejeon will be confident as, although there are a lot of new faces, the Purples enjoyed a decent record against Jeju last year. The two trips to the island yielded four points from six - including the most recent meeting between the two teams (2-0 win, pictured above) - while the two home fixtures saw Daejeon win one and lose one. 

Last season, Jeju almost got dragged into the relegation battle and lost 17 matches - the third-most in the division. Even with Kim Hak-bum at the helm as a safe pair of hands, Daejeon should - and certainly will be - looking to take all three points this Sunday. 

What Daejeon will want to do, and perhaps need to this Sunday though, is get on the front foot a bit more. Against Jeonbuk, they managed just seven shots - only Gimicheon, Pohang, and Suwon FC dispatched fewer, this is despite recording the fifth-most touches in the box with 22. Six were from Gutek who ranked third in that regard on opening day.


But Daejeon did make the most of what little chances they did create as they ranked joint-third on opening day for shooting accuracy (42.9%). The Purples will need to make the most of Gutek's aerial presence by getting more crosses into the box. Only five were completed against Jeonbuk, by far the fewest in the division. 

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