▲ The sun was out for Jeju's game against Ulsan at the weekend. Photo courtesy The Jeju Weekly
Jeju United play Adelaide United on Wednesday in the third game of their AFC Champions League (ACL) campaign. They are currently in second place in their group behind Jiangsu Suning from China.
A win tomorrow will give them a major boost in their bid to qualify from the group stages. Adelaide United, currently in last place, will also be desperate for a win to keep their hopes of qualification alive.
This game comes after three consecutive wins in the K League and the ACL for Jeju. In these games they have scored a total of eight goals and conceded only one. In fact, including the end of last season they have only lost two games in the last sixteen.
The three most recent wins, however, have been on another level. At the weekend they beat Ulsan Hyundai three goals to zero. This is a team many tipped to challenge for the upper places of the K League this year.
It was a dominating performance that showed not just how strong Jeju are in attack, but also that they have a real toughness in defence. Throughout the whole game they only conceded a couple of chances to Ulsan.
The other stand out performance was against Gamba Osaka in their most recent ACL game.
Going into this game Jeju were by no means favourites. In the previous round of ACL fixtures before this game, Gamba thrashed Adelaide 3-0. On the other hand, although Jeju created a lot of chances, they lost 1-0 to Chinese team Jiangsu Suning.
However, despite this and the fact that they were playing away from home, Jeju put on an excellent performance and beat the Asian Champions League regulars by four goals to one.
In this game, Osaka were unable to deal with Jeju’s quick attacking, clever movement and high pressure and ultimately paid the price with a heavy defeat.
One of the standout performers from this season has been youngster Lee Chang-min who scored two goals against Osaka (including one absolute screamer: check the video below), and one against Ulsan.
New attacking signing Magno has also fit into the team well, while defenders Kim Won-il and Cho Yong-hyung have helped Jeju tighten up at the back.
While all seems to be going well for Jeju, things aren’t working out quite as hoped for Adelaide. After qualifying for the ACL due to winning the A League last year, they sold many of their best players which has resulted in a huge downturn in form.
In fact, they are currently bottom of the A League after 22 games.
In the ACL they aren’t doing much better and after losing 3-0 to Osaka in their first game, a slightly improved performance against Jiangsu Sunning in the second still saw them lose by two goals to one.
However, despite the differences in form between the two teams, the game is far from a foregone conclusion.
Playing away from home Jeju will have to find a way to deal with the exceptionally long (13+hours from Seoul) journey to Adelaide. This is Jeju’s first season in continental competition for six years so they will have to adapt to the extra workload quickly.
Another worry could be that last season’s star player, Marcello, went off injured in the weekend’s game against Ulsan.
While he did seem to be walking fine at the end of the game, if he is injured Jeju will certainly miss his creative ability in the final third. Having said that, all three of Jeju’s goals last week did come after he went off so perhaps it won’t be as big a loss as initially feared.
The game against Adelaide will be played at 17:30 Korean Standard Time. For those who want to watch the game, it will be available to stream on Naver.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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