▲ The gang's all here Photo courtesy of Jeju United
A pair of first half goals within ten minutes of each other from Lee Gang-Jin and Ahn Hyun-Beom, followed by a second half strike from Kim Ho-Nam, were more than enough for Jeju United to secure a well-deserved 3-0 victory over Sangju Sangmu at the Jeju World Cup Stadium on Sunday Nov. 6.
The home team entered the final round of play having already secured a playoff spot in next year’s AFC Champions League, courtesy of a draw away to Ulsan Hyundai last Wednesday.
Jeju’s playoff opponent has yet to be determined. Current possibilities include Brisbane Roar from Australia, Shanghai SIPG from China, and Kawasaki Frontale or Kashima Antlers from Japan. That match is slated to take place next year on February 7th.
This is the first time in five years that Jeju has qualified for Asia’s premier club football competition, and the second overall since the team relocated to the island back in 2006.
Although on the short end of possession throughout the match, it was Jeju who was far superior in the attacking third, managing six total shots on goal en route to finding the net three times, to Sangju’s lone effort, which made no impact on the outcome of the match.
The season finale saw a crowd of over 15,000 in attendance, which could signal bigger numbers of spectators in the stands if Jeju is able to make a run of consequence in Asia next year.
The club will go into the off-season having some questions to address, mainly how to shore up its porous back line, which allowed the most goals this season of any club in the top six.
▲ Manager Kim In-Soo and former manager Jo Sung-Hwan Photo courtesy of Jeju United
Incoming manager Kim In-Soo, who replaced the Jo Sung-Hwan last month, will be under pressure to maintain the rhythm of Jeju’s high powered scoring machine, which co-led the league with FC Seoul, finding the net on 71 occasions in the K League in 2016.
On the bright side, leading scorer Marcelo Toscano will return to the club in 2017 to finish the final year of his contract with the hope of posting bigger numbers in the next campaign.
In a season full of ups and downs, Jeju still managed its best placing in the league since 2010. It remains to be seen if this season’s achievements can be matched next year, but for now, it seems as though things are headed in a positive direction.
▲ Ahn Hyun-beom and Lee Geun-ho Photo courtesy of Jeju United
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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