Professional soccer’s Jeju United was denied a place in the Korean Football Association (FA) Cup final after a penalty shootout. Now, Jeju’s only remaining goal this season is to stay in the league. Captain Choi Young-jun vowed, “We will work together with the players to finish well.”
Jeju played the Pohang Steelers in the 2023 Hana OneQ FA Cup semifinals at Jeju World Cup Stadium on April 1, losing 3-4 on penalties after playing 1-1 for 120 minutes. Jeju took the lead through Seo Jin-soo’s goal on a counterattack in the final minute of the first half, but Pohang equalized in the 15th minute of the second half through Kim In-sung’s mid-range shot. Pohang fought back hard, but the two teams battled until the 120th minute, with defender Lim Chae-min and goalkeeper Kim Dong-joon leading the way. In the penalty shootout, Kim Dong-jun saved the day, but two subsequent kickers failed to convert.
For Jeju, the loss was even more painful. It was a turnaround from a poor season.
Jeju had put a lot of effort into preparing for the season, with former head coach Nam Ki-il promising to “threaten Hyundai (Ulsan and North Korea)” ahead of the kickoff. However, the team got off to a rocky start in the first game. In particular, opening captain Choi Young-jun injured his knee and was sidelined for over eight months. Despite the slow start, Jeju reached as high as second in the league at one point, but ultimately failed to overcome a summer slump and missed out on a spot in the Final A. Head coach Nam Ki-il took responsibility for the poor performance and relinquished the reins. Head coach Chung Joguk then took over, but Jeju’s report card fell far short of expectations.
As a result, Jeju has been working hard to prepare for the FA Cup. If they win the FA Cup, they will qualify for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) in the upcoming 2024-25 season. However, 120 minutes was not enough to decide the match, and the team lost by one goal in penalty kicks, ending their cup run. Now, Jeju’s goal this season is to stay in the league. Jeju is in ninth place (10 wins, 9 draws, 16 losses – 39 points) after 35 rounds of the K League, and only needs to win one of their three matches to secure their place.
“I’m very disappointed with the result,” said Choi in the Mix Zone after the match. I missed most of the FA Cup (due to injury) and started playing in the quarterfinals. My teammates worked really hard to come up…” he said.
Speaking about the upcoming league schedule, he added: “It’s a shame because the whole squad was so eager to prepare for the FA Cup. We have three games left. We’ve had a poor season. We’re in a favorable situation, but we’ll try to make up for it. We have to give back to our home fans.”
In conclusion, Choi said, “I realized how hard it is to be out of the game with a major injury that you don’t want to think about. We have to finish the remaining games well to see the future of next year. It’s important for the players to stick together and finish well.” 토토사이트
After completing their FA Cup journey, Jeju will host FC Seoul on Nov. 11 and Daejeon Hana Citizen on Nov. 25. They will finish the season with an away match against Suwon FC on March 2.