The void left by the ‘K League’s top scorer’ Cho Kyu-sung (25-Mitwillan) is huge. Expectations are high for Jeonbuk Hyundai’s new striker, Park Jae-yong (23).
Jeonbuk has one win, one draw, and one loss since Cho’s departure. After a two-game winning streak in early July, they drew 2-2 with Daejeon Hana Citizens on the 12th, followed by a 1-0 hard-fought victory over lowly Suwon FC on the 16th. On the 21st, they lost 1-2 away to Pohang Steelers. The race for the top spot has also become unstable. Currently, Jeonbuk sits in fourth place in the league with 11 wins, 4 draws, and 9 losses, and 37 points. However, they are being chased by teams in the middle of the table. There’s not much separating fifth-place Gwangju FC (34 points) from ninth-place Jeju United (30 points).
With the departure of Cho Kyu-sung, foreign striker Gustavo has stepped up to the plate. However, his consistency is lacking. While he scored the winning goal against Suwon FC, he only had one shot on target in the full 90 minutes against Pohang. This year, Gustavo has scored two goals in 20 league appearances. Not exactly inspiring confidence. “It’s really hard to replace Cho Kyu-sung,” said Jeonbuk coach Petrescu.
Jeonbuk has another trump card. It’s 23-year-old striker Park Jae-yong, who was signed from FC Anyang (2nd Division) on July 20. He’s been touted as the “second Cho Kyu-sung” because he’s 6-foot-2, plays the same frontline striker position, and has a similar career path from Anyang to Jeonbuk. Park Jae-yong wears the number 10 shirt worn by Cho Kyu-sung and plays for Jeonbuk. He scored six goals in 18 K League 2 games this year and was named to the final roster of Hwang Sun-hong’s Hangzhou Asian Games squad.
However, Petrescu is cautious. While he recognizes Park’s skill and potential for growth, he says he needs time to replace Cho Kyu-sung. He also wanted to avoid putting too much pressure on the younger player. “I don’t expect him to be as explosive as Cho Kyu-sung right now,” Petrescu said. But I want him to be at the same level in the future. He’s young and has a lot of potential.”
Cho Kyu-sung didn’t immediately become a star player after joining Jeonbuk. After making his professional debut with Anyang in 2019, he scored 14 goals in 33 league appearances that year. He was immediately approached by Jeonbuk, who offered him a transfer. However, Cho headed to Sangmu, where he resolved his military obligations and improved his physicality to become a more threatening player. As a result, he became the top scorer in the K League 1 last year with 17 goals. He was also a star striker at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He helped South Korea advance to the round of 16, including a multi-goal performance against Ghana in the second round of the group stage with a header. 토토사이트
Petrescu believes that if Park is given enough time and opportunities, he will grow into a player who represents the league like Cho Kyu-sung.
“It’s an honor to join the top club in the K League,” Park said, adding, “The post-Jo Gyu-sung label is a burden, but I’m determined to prove it at Jeonbuk.”
For now, Gustavo’s sluggish performance is revitalized, and Park Jae-yong supports the back without much pressure.