▲ Jeju United hopes to get a heads up on a better start to June, after a so-so performance in May. Photo courtesy Jeju United Football Club
With a busy schedule and injuries to key players such as Korean international Kang Min-Soo, May was always going to be a difficult month for Jeju United. It started off in the worst possible way too with a humiliating 5-0 defeat at home to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
Playing in front of a bumper crowd of over 21,000 at the Jeju Athletics Stadium, United’s makeshift defence simply couldn’t cope with the attacking play of Jeonbuk’s experienced players Choi Tae-Uk and Lee Dong-Suk. Combined with the brilliance of Brazilian imports Eninho and Luiz Henrique, Jeju were taught a footballing lesson in a match which could have quite possibly ended 10-0. The result was sufficient to move Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to the top of the K-League.
Jeju United had just 72 hours to recover before making the trip to Gyeongnam FC for a Peace Cup fixture. Coach Arthur Bernardes had obviously said some strong words to his players as Jeju put in a good performance and secured a 2-1 victory thanks to late goals from Gu Ja-Cheol and Shim Young-Sung. The result put Jeju in to poll position in terms of qualifying for the quarter finals of the competition.
May 9 saw Jeju face a difficult trip to Pohang Steelers in the K-League. Boosted by the return of Brazilian star Ricardo, the side achieved an unlikely 2-2 draw at the home of the Asian Champions League qualifiers. Whilst there was a degree of luck involved, Jeju deserved their two goals – one put in to his own net by Pohang defender Kim Jung-Kyum and the other an injury time equalizer from substitute Bang Seung-Hwan.
Despite two credible performances Jeju United didn’t have time to rest as they welcomed amateur side Gangneung City to Seogwipo for a FA Cup first round match just four days later. In stark contrast to the 20,000 plus which crammed in to the Athletics Stadium in Jeju City just two weeks earlier, a crowd barely entering treble figures was in attendance at the World Cup stadium.
The few fans that did attend probably wish they hadn’t as Jeju put in a dire performance against lower opposition. Although they had the vast majority of possession, the home side simply couldn’t create any chances and it was with some relief that the referee blew his whistle at the end of 90 minutes to signal a penalty shoot out. Jeju took their penalties well and won 5-3, setting up a second round match against fellow K-League side Busan I Park.
A crowd of 3,500 attended Jeju’s final league game of the month at home to Daejeon. Desperate for a victory, Jeju played well for the majority of the game against an evenly matched Daejeon side. Kim Young-Sin’s goal was sufficient to secure a 1-0 victory, a score which moved Jeju to eighth position in the K-League table and to within a point of the top six and a play-off position.
Jeju United now have no further matches until June 20, with the exception of a Peace Cup game in Seogwipo on May 27 at 7 p.m. against Jeonbuk. It will be a good opportunity for the team to avenge the embarrassing 5-0 defeat at the start of the month with the additional knowledge that a win, draw or one goal defeat will be sufficient to secure a place in the Peace Cup quarter finals.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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