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Jeonbuk Motors (South Korea)
The story so far
It’s been an eventful few weeks for Jeonbuk Motors, the team from the southwest city Jeonju who have proved themselves more than just a headline-writers dream.
Victory over Al Ain of the United Arab Emirates in the AFC Champions League Final saw the South Koreans end the season on a high after they suffered the disappointment of losing the K-League title on the final day of the season. Jeonbuk had been on course for a third successive title with six games to go and led Seoul by 14 points after being hit by a nine-point deduction after a club scout was found guilty of bribing referees in 2013 – which the club denies all knowledge of.
The Asian Football Confederation could yet take action against their club champions, with a ban from next year’s competition a possibility. In the meantime, Motors travel to Japan to face Mamelodi Sundowns in a game in which they will fancy their chances.
In a decade under Choi Kang-hee, Jeonbuk have become a powerhouse of the Korean game. But the Club World Cup could be his last games in charge as he has been linked him with a move to Beijing Guoan. If he goes, he will leave behind a substantial legacy.
The unsmiling Choi Kang-hee has been in charge since 2005 – apart from an 18-month spell leading Korea through qualification for the 2014 World Cup – and has turned Jeonbuk from a middling K-League side to a genuine Asian powerhouse with four domestic and two continental crowns.
Lee Jae-sung is a standout player in Korea and Asia and few can understand why the midfielder is not a regular in the national team. One of the best passers around, he also is adept at breaking up play and then creating. Has played wide for Korea at times and is one of those with the ability to play anywhere.
Choi has plenty of options to deploy in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. Long-term investment has ensured that he has two players for almost every position. Kim Bo-kyung, and foreigners Leonardo and Ricardo Lopes are instrumental in the key attacking moves, feeding tall striker Kim Shin-wook, who is first choice ahead of Lee Dong-Gook.