Professional soccer’s Pohang Steelers and Jeonbuk Hyundai will meet in the final of the Korea Football Association Cup. Both teams have secured a direct ticket to the elite group stage of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League for the 2024-2025 season, while also settling scores a week ago.
Pohang and Jeonbuk will meet in the KFA Cup final on April 4 at 2:15 p.m. at Pohang Steel Yard. It will be the first time in 10 years that Pohang and Jeonbuk have met in the KFA Cup since 2013. Back then, Pohang drew 1-1 with Jeonbuk at Jeonju World Cup Stadium before winning 4-3 on penalties to claim their fourth title in a row. Pohang, however, has not returned to the top of the KFA Cup in the past decade, while Jeonbuk has won the title five times, tied for the most in the category, with victories in 2020 and 2022.토토사이트
The prize money for the KFA Cup is 300 million won. However, the winner also receives a ticket to the AFC Champions League Elite group stage. Qualifying for the Champions League Elite is a chance to play for the ‘big money’. According to the Champions League revamp announced by AFC in August, the Champions League Elite prize pool will be $12 million (approximately 16 billion won), tripling the current Champions League prize pool of $4 million.
Neither Pohang nor Jeonbuk have yet secured a ticket to the AFC Champions League Elite. In Korean professional soccer, the winner of the Korea Football Association Cup, as well as the winner of the K League 1, qualify for the AFC Champions League Elite, with Ulsan already at the top of the K League 1. Pohang is second and Jeonbuk is fourth, but the K League 1 runners-up qualify for the playoffs instead of the main competition.
Pohang and Jeonbuk have a history of bad blood, not just from their final matchup a decade ago. In a K League 1 match at Jeonju World Cup Stadium last month, Pohang and Jeonbuk played to a 1-1 draw, but there was a mix-up in Pohang’s substitution process that resulted in 12 players on the field for a “record” four-and-a-half minutes. Jeonbuk is claiming that Pohang forfeited the match because it had 11 “ineligible players,” while Pohang is arguing that the referees are to blame for the mistake. In the actual match, Pohang played with only 11 players. The Korean Professional Football Association is reviewing the forfeit.
“I remember that we won the match against Jeonbuk (10 years ago) after a penalty shootout, and I will work with the players to keep the good memories alive,” Pohang coach Kim Ki-dong said. “We haven’t lost to Jeonbuk this year,” he said, adding, “The players realize that Jeonbuk is clearly better than us. Nevertheless, we are overpowering them, and I hope the players have confidence in themselves.” Jeonbuk coach Dan Petrescu said, “It’s a single game, it’s a final, so it doesn’t matter how good or bad the opponent is.” “We have a short time of three days, so we don’t know where to go and how to prepare,” he said.