Professional soccer’s K League 1 Jeonbuk Hyundai, which had its sights set on winning the Korean Football Association (FA) Cup since the beginning of the season, was forced to make a trajectory correction after losing to the Pohang Steelers in the final on Thursday. It was a disappointing end to the season, but there’s no one to blame.
They have to pack up their bags in Pohang and travel to Singapore for their Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) group stage match. After missing out on the league and 홀덤사이트 FA Cup titles, the shadow of irrelevance looms large over Jeonbuk, but the possibility of a dramatic turnaround in the ACL remains.
Jeonbuk will face Ryan City away at Singapore’s Jalan Besar Stadium on Aug. 8 at 9 p.m. in their ACL Group F match of the 2023-24 season.
Jeonbuk is second in Group F (6 points) behind Bangkok United (9 points). Jeonbuk, who defeated Ryan City 3-0 at home on March 25, will need a win away from home in Singapore to stay in contention at the top of the group. Jeonbuk missed out on the league and FA Cup titles in 2016, but finished atop the ACL.
It’s a good thing for Jeonbuk that Pohang won the FA Cup, as it increases their chances of securing a spot in the ACL for the 2024-25 season.
Starting next year, the competition will be divided into tiers one through three, with the K League receiving two tickets to the AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) and one ticket to the AFC Champions League 2 (ACL2), with a prize pool of approximately 16 billion won.
Even if the winner of the K League (Ulsan) and the FA Cup (Pohang) share one ACLE ticket each, there is still one left over. This one ticket is not a direct ticket to the ACLE, but a playoff (PO) against another league team. The loser of the first round PO will play in ACL2. Japan and Saudi Arabia will get three tickets to the ACLE, while South Korea and Qatar will get 2+1 tickets.
Jeonbuk, which is fourth in the league with 53 points, must overtake third-place Gwangju FC (57 points) to claim the ACLE ticket. The goal difference is four points. This is a position that could change depending on the outcome of the remaining three matches, but with Gwangju also aiming to qualify for the ACL, it will be a fierce battle to the end.
After their trip to Singapore, Jeonbuk will play Incheon United (5th place – 52 points) away on the 12th and then face Gwangju at home on the 25th. These three matches will likely decide Jeonbuk’s fate. In addition, whether or not Pohang forfeits the game due to a “player substitution mistake” that occurred in the match between Jeonbuk and Pohang is also an important variable in the battle for the top spot.