Jeju United look to upset establish Korean order
Korean K League, Updated:
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Situated on a picturesque South Korean island an hour from the mainland, Jeju United have enjoyed a great start to the season.
Jeju's bright start to the season reflects the beauty of its scenic paths and volcanic terrain that make it a hub of Asian tourism. Sitting top of the K-League above last season's Asian Champions League champions, Jeonbuk Hyundai, on goal difference after two games, they look set to contend for the title this season.
Korean football expert and Jeju United fan Duncan Elder of 'K-League United' told Sport In A Storm: "It's still early but it's been a great start. We finished last season well so I was expecting a good start. However while the results haven't necessarily been surprising, the fact that we have been so convincing was."
With a place in the ACL falling in Jeju's lap following a bribery and corruption scandal that embroiled 2016 ACL winners Jeonbuk, Jeju have encountered a mixed set of results in the group stage of their first Champions League appearance in six years.
Looking to improve on their 2011 group stage exit, they were downed by a last-minute Ramires goal in the opening match followed up by very impressive away performances at Gamba Osaka and Adelaide United. A 4-1 victory and 3-3 draw respectively puts the island dwellers second in Group while Brazilian striker Marcelo Toscano and Lee Chang-min sit among the current top scorers in the competition.
On Jeju's start, Elder added: "The whole team has jelled really well and we look to have found a good balance between defence and attack. I think we have a chance in the league but ultimately aren't used to challenging for the top places so I would be (pleasantly) surprised if we were still in the top one or two at the end of the season."
Chang-min and Ahn Hyun-beom both scored in last weekends impressive 3-0 home victory over Korea's fellow Champions League representatives Ulsan. Tipped by Elder to be Korea's next possible export to Europe, 22-year-old Hyun-beom scored eight in a breakthrough year last season.