Jeonbuk Hyundai awoke from a long winter slumber with the return of “fantasy star” Cho Kyu-sung (25).
Jeonbuk defeated Suwon FC 3-1 at home in the 14th round of the Hana OneQ K League 1 2023 at Jeonju World Cup Stadium on Nov. 21 to remain unbeaten in their last four matches (two wins and two draws) and sit in seventh place with 18 points (five wins, three draws, and six losses). The gap between them and ‘absolute favorites’ Ulsan Hyundai (37 points) remains large, but the top two spots of FC Seoul, Jeju United, and Pohang Steelers (over 24 points) are within reach.
Jeonbuk’s ‘attacking instinct’ is back. After repeatedly playing lethargic under extreme pressure and pressure since the start of the season, Jeonbuk marked the return of the original Dakgong (shut up and attack) against Suwon FC. If the hero of the day was Song Min-kyu (24), who returned from an ankle ligament injury to score the winning goal, the supporting cast was Cho Kyu-sung, who shook off a calf injury.
Jeonbuk has been plagued by lineup injuries since the start of the season. There were departures from every position, and the most painful was the offense, which evaporated in an instant. 안전놀이터
Cho Kyu-sung, who became the first Korean player to score multiple goals in a single game at last year’s World Cup in Qatar, suffered a pretty serious injury during the A-match call-up in March. He tried to come back quickly, but it only made things worse. As soon as he joined the team training, he felt pain and headed to the treatment room, which meant he would be out for two months. I was not happy. While he was away, the team went downhill, as the European qualification was pushed back to the summer. Former coach Kim Sang-sik resigned.
Finally, the long-awaited comeback. Acting Jeonbuk head coach Kim Doo-hyun said, “I completed the rehabilitation program steadily without rushing. We prepared well,” and expected a big performance, but he wasn’t full from the first drink. Despite playing the full time, we didn’t create any decisive chances. His movement, especially in front of goal, was a bit rushed and dull. With one goal in four games before his injury, his stat sheet for the season is still pretty meager.
However, the value of a frontline striker can’t be measured solely in terms of attacking points. They need to draw the opposition defense in, drag them around, and open up space and chances around them. Cho was fouled three times on the day. This was second on the team behind “specialty winger” Lee Dong-joon (26-4) and Song Min-gyu (3). With his increased fitness and rhythm, the national team goalie was also quite a challenge for opposing defenses.
Cho Kyu-sung was relaxed. His expression wasn’t dark. The ‘jungkema’ (unbreakable heart) spirit from the World Cup is still there. “Jeonbuk has found its own color and everyone is playing their role well. I just need to find the goal and work hard,” he said. “My teammates are really good, so the heart is more important,” he emphasized.