With Ulsan Hyundai confirmed as the 2023 K League champions, Jeonbuk Hyundai and Pohang Steelers are set to meet for the first time in a decade on Thursday for the FA Cup title, which will determine the best team in Korean soccer.
Starting with the first round of the 2023 FA Cup in March, the 56 teams in the competition played six matches to reach the quarterfinals, with only Jeonbuk Hyundai and Pohang Steelers surviving. This year’s FA Cup Final will be a single-legged affair. With Jeonbuk defeating Incheon and Pohang defeating Jeju in the quarterfinals on Nov. 1, the two teams will meet on Nov. 4 at 2:15 p.m. at the Steel Yard, Pohang’s home stadium.
This is the first time in 10 years that Pohang and Jeonbuk have met in the FA Cup final. The last time the two teams met in the FA Cup final was on October 19, 2013, at Jeonju World Cup Stadium, where Choi Kang-hee (Shandong Taishan) led Jeonbuk Hyundai and Hwang Sun-hong (Olympic Team) led Pohang Steelers battled for the title.
In a one-sided affair, Pohang took the lead in the 23rd minute through current captain Kim Seung-dae, but soon gave up an equalizer to former Jeonbuk player Kim Ki-hee (Ulsan). The two teams then battled for the next 90 minutes before Pohang defeated Jeonbuk in penalty kicks to win the FA Cup. After celebrating their FA Cup triumph, Pohang went on to record a dramatic come-from-behind win over Ulsan Hyundai in the league that season, becoming the first K League club to complete a ‘double’.
A decade later, in the 2023 season, Pohang is still a force to be reckoned with, but its most recent title is still in 2013. After the resignation of Hwang Sun-hong, who led Pohang during its heyday, at the end of the 2015 season, the club has struggled under Choi Jin-cheol and Choi Sun-ho, and is looking to recreate its former glory under the leadership of Kim Ki-dong, who was promoted from assistant coach to head coach in the middle of the 2019 season. With the exception of the 2021 season, when they finished ninth in the league, Pohang have never finished out of the top half of the table since Kim’s arrival and reached the final of the Asian Champions League in 2021, their second final under Kim. 무지개토토
Pohang, who made a dramatic bid for the league title this season but lost it to Ulsan in the second half after failing to manage points, are desperate to end a decade-long drought. Jeonbuk also has a golden opportunity to avenge the heartbreak of losing the title to Pohang at home 10 years ago. Jeonbuk has a golden opportunity, but they are even more desperate to win because they are on the brink of irrelevance.