For the first time in a decade, professional soccer’s K League 1 champion Jeonbuk Hyundai ended the 2023 season empty-handed.
Since winning the K League 1 title in 2014, the club has collected at least one trophy every year, but this year they finished the season without a trophy. The team took drastic measures, such as replacing the head coach during the season, but it ended up being a season full of disappointment.
Jeonbuk finished as runners-up in the Korean Football Association (FA) Cup final against the Pohang Steelers on April 4, losing 2-4. This means they will be empty-handed in 2023. The club is currently playing in the Asian Football Confederation Champions League (ACL) for the 2023-24 season, but the ACL will be replaced by the Chuseok Festival this season and the winner will be crowned next year.
It’s been an eventful 2023 for Jeonbuk.
After winning five consecutive K League 1 titles from 2017 to 2021, Jeonbuk lost the championship to Ulsan Hyundai last year and made major additions ahead of this season. In addition to Jeong Tae-wook, Amano Jun, Lee Dong-joon, and Jeong Woo-jae, the team added foreign players Andre Luiz and Hapa Silva.
However, the team’s early results fell short of expectations, and coach Kim Sang-sik was relieved of his duties in early May. After Kim Doo-hyun took over, Romanian coach Dan Pescescu took the reins in June, but he was unable to achieve the expected results.
The sudden generational change, coupled with the poor performance of foreign players, was a blow to the pride. Andre Luiz has zero offensive points in 13 games, while Hapa Silva has just three goals (one assist) in 24 games. Outside of the squad, Gustavo’s six goals this season are tied for the most on the team with Song Min-kyu (six goals, two assists).
Under Pescrescu, the team’s trademark “shut up and attack” style disappeared, and Jeonbuk fans were disappointed with the team’s attacking style. In the summer transfer market, the team added Ahn Hyun-beom, Park Jae-yong, and Petrasek, but they barely managed to stay in the Final A.
Facing the prospect of dropping down to the lower division for the first time in their history, Jeonbuk breathed a sigh of relief by beating FC Seoul in the 33rd round of the K League 1, but fell short to Pohang in the highly anticipated FA Cup final. It’s also a matter of pride that Jeonbuk hasn’t won a single game against Pohang this season, drawing 1 and losing 4.
Their current league record isn’t great either. With 15 wins, 8 draws, and 12 losses (53 points), they are in fourth place, but there is a significant gap between them and second-place Pohang (60 points) and third-place Gwangju (57 points). It’s a far cry from the team that used to compete with Ulsan for the title every year. 보스토토 도메인
Instead, they are being chased by fifth-place Incheon (52 points) and sixth-place Daegu (49 points). Jeonbuk has games against Incheon (away) on Nov. 12 and Gwangju (home) on Nov. 25 before the final game against Ulsan (away) on Nov. 3.
While the season isn’t over yet, Jeonbuk must be thinking about next season.
Jeonbuk has invested heavily each year to become the “leading club” in the K League, but without a clear vision and direction for the future, the club may face even greater challenges in the future.