Petrescu’s defence of ‘poor performance’: “Gaps in core five hard for even Man City to fill”

“The core five gap is hard to fill, even for 스포츠토토 Man City.”

That’s what Jeonbuk Hyundai head coach Dan Petrescu said. Jeonbuk won the first leg of their 2023-2024 Asian Champions League (ACL) Group F match against Kitchee SC (Hong Kong) at Jeonju World Cup Stadium on Tuesday, 2-1, thanks to a 16th-minute goal from Han Kyowon. A win, but a frustrating one. Jeonbuk was in a group with Thailand’s Bangkok United, Singapore’s Ryan City, and Kitchee. It was considered the easiest group of the four K League teams, along with Ulsan Hyundai, Pohang Steelers, and Incheon United. Jeonbuk missed out on the coveted ticket to the final last season, stopping their journey in the quarterfinals.

The team welcomed Kitchee, who were categorized as the weakest team in Group F, into their backyard, and with a cool victory, Jeonbuk looked to open the door to the ACL this season. Jeonbuk brought out their best members. The first goal came in the sixth minute, and the expected scenario seemed to unfold. Amano’s free kick was headed home by Hong Jeong-ho, giving Jeonbuk the lead. However, frustrating attacks followed. In the 11th minute of the second half, they conceded the equalizer. It could have been a disaster, but fortunately, Han Gyo-won scored the winner in the 16th minute. Jun Amano’s shot bounced off the defense and was lucky to land at Han’s feet. Han calmly slid it in to take the lead. Jeonbuk defended well to secure a hard-fought victory.

Coach Petrescu said in the post-match press conference, “ACL is difficult every game, but we still managed to get a valuable win. We dominated the game and scored the first goal, but then they scored an unbelievable equalizer. We reacted immediately and were able to put them away. It was a good win for everyone. The players felt the pressure. It was a win to shake it off.” “It’s a good win for the morale of the team. I hope it will continue in the next game.”

On the timing of the late substitution, he said, “It was an option for the next game. If it was 3-1 instead of 2-1, we could have made more substitutions, but the score was so close that it could have changed the outcome, and we didn’t have any attacking options on the bench.” On the injury situation of Hapasilva and Lee Dong-jun, he said, “As far as I know, Hapasilva’s injury is long-term and could be out for the season at worst. For Lee Dong-joon, I heard two months. In addition to the injured players, we have five players missing from the Asian Games, so we have a big void.”

Jeonbuk is not playing well. “Even if you’re a club like Man City or Barcelona, it’s hard to fill the gap of five key players,” says Petrescu. With a tight schedule, it’s hard to find a solution, but we got the win. When I first arrived, we had a great striker in Cho Kyu-sung, but he left. It’s not easy to fill that gap right now. It’s a difficult situation at the moment. We have to take that into account.”

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