Professional football’s Pohang Steelers have defeated Jeonbuk Hyundai to win the Korean Football Association (FA) Cup for the fifth time in their history.
Pohang won the 2023 Hana OneQ FA Cup final against Jeonbuk 4-2 on Thursday at the Pohang Steel Yard thanks to Kim Jong-woo’s 32nd-minute winner after a 2-2 tie and Hong Yun-sang’s wedge goal in second-half stoppage time.
Pohang also won the final against Jeonbuk to regain the FA Cup trophy for the first time in 10 years after winning the 2013 edition.
They also increased their total number of titles to five (1996-2008-2012-2013-2023), tying them with Jeonbuk and Suwon Samsung for the most wins.
The win was made all the more special because it came on the club’s 50th anniversary. Pohang was founded in April 1973.
The win also secured Pohang a place in the 2024-2025 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League Elite (ACLE).
The ACLE was created at the top of the existing Champions League (ACL) from the 2024-2025 season, with three ACLE spots allocated to Korea.
While discussions between the Korea Football Association and the KFA, the organisation that has the final say on whether or not one of the ACLE berths will be awarded to the FA Cup winner who takes over the top club competition status from the ACL, are still ongoing, it is safe to say that Pohang’s inaugural appearance in the ACLE is virtually assured.
“It is the basic policy of the Football Association that the FA Cup winner should be eligible for the top club competition,” said an official from the Football Association, adding, “Even if there is a change in this policy, it is in the realm of ‘common sense’ that Pohang, which has already won the FA Cup, should participate in the ACLE for the 2024-2025 season.”
By securing their ACLE tickets early, Pohang have taken the pressure off of their remaining three K League One matches to compete for a place in the competition.
Under the KFA’s existing ticket allocation policy, the second-placed team in K League 1 qualifies for the ACLE, and with three games remaining, Pohang is second (60 points), Gwangju FC is third (57 points), and Jeonbuk is fourth (53 points).
Jeonbuk, on the other hand, will need to win all of their remaining matches to qualify for the ACLE and hope for an ‘upset runner-up’ finish.
More importantly for Jeonbuk than Pohang is what the K League will decide about the ‘mistaken player substitution’ incident that occurred in the 35th round of the K League One match between Jeonbuk and Pohang.
The match ended in a 1-1 draw, with Jeonbuk requesting a 0-3 forfeit from Pohang.
Jeonbuk has yet to win an official match against Pohang this season, drawing one and losing four.
Kim In-sung, who was at the centre of the substitution scandal, Zeca and Ko Young-joon started and led Pohang’s attack.
For Jeonbuk, Gustavo, Song Min-kyu, and Han Kyowon hunted for goals up front.
Song Min-kyu, who made his professional debut with Pohang and played for four years before moving to Jeonbuk in 2021, opened the scoring for his hometown side.
Song Min-gyu opened the scoring in the 17th minute when he connected with a low cross from Gustavo with a non-stop right-footed shot that was saved by Jeonbuk goalkeeper Hwang In-jae.
Pohang equalised in the 44th minute through Han Chan-hee.
Go Young-joon’s low cross from the left hit the feet of a Jeonbuk defender and flowed into the front of the goal area, where Han Chan-hee finished with a non-stop right-footed shot to make it 1-1.
Jeonbuk took the lead again in the sixth minute of the second half through Gustavo’s penalty corner goal.
Earlier, Jeonbuk’s Jeong Woo-jae had received the ball inside the penalty area and was roughly tackled by Pohang’s Shin Kwang-hoon, but after a video assistant referee (VAR) review, the referee ruled that Shin was fouled.
Pohang did not stand still.
In the 29th minute of the second half, Go Young-joon trapped Munjeon with his chest and Zeca connected with a picturesque non-stop volley to level the score at 2-2.
In the end, it was Pohang who had the last laugh.
Midfielder Kim Jong-woo, who has played in a Pohang jersey this season, scored the winning goal on his Pohang debut.
In the 29th minute, he received a pass from Kim Seung-dae in the centre of the box and fired a stunning left-footed mid-range shot into the bottom right corner of the goal.
Pohang celebrated the victory in stoppage time when Hong Yun-sang scored the wedge goal with a right-footed curling shot from the left corner of the goal area. 먹튀검증