Victory will have their work cut out for them on Tuesday night in their bid to breach Fort Jeonju in the second leg of their ACL round of 16 tie reports Asian football correspondent John Duerden.
If Melbourne Victory thought that Jeonbuk Motors would be tired out by domestic commitments around their second round clash in the 2016 AFC Champions League, they were mistaken.
Just four days after drawing 1-1 in the first leg in Australia, the Korea Republic champions were in action in the K-League Classic.
It may have been an away game but it was a local derby of sorts, the 'Honam Derby' between two southwestern terms, one from South Jeolla Province and one from the north. The north won as Jeonbuk emerged with a 2-1 victory.
The three points were especially pleasing for coach Choi Kang-hee as he made ten changes from the team that started in Australia to the one that started in the city of Suncheon.
Only goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae started both games. Choi had made no secret of his intention to field, what is known in Korea as a '1.5 team', something between a first and second string. In the end, was more like a 1.9.
“There is no other way,” said Choi. “To play in Australia in midweek is a big burden on the players. But that is why we have a squad and rotation is necessary.
Jeonbuk still won, coming back from a goal down thanks to a brace from Luiz Henrique. The Brazilian's grabbed the winning goal deep into injury time. He will have done his chances of starting on Wednesday no harm at all.
“We have overcome a hurdle today,” said Choi. “There were a lot of different players and while we didn't play especially well, we had a bit of luck. When you make so many changes,there are always going to be issues with organisation but we came through the test well.”
Choi wasn't happy at falling behind once again. “I am always emphasising to the players about the importance of the first goal but we conceded first once again. I can only compliment the players on coming from behind to win.”
The goal hero Luiz Henrique didn't travel to Australia but his two goals mean that the Brazilian attacker will be in contention for a starting spot. “He came in and did what we needed in this game and we will see what happens against Melbourne.”
It has been a tough couple of weeks for the 2006 continental champions with the trip down under, FA Cup games and a tough league schedule.
“We have had lots of games recently and this is obviously tough for the players but things will get a lot easier after Wednesday's game. The schedule becomes much easier.”
Choi has coached more games in the AFC Champions League than any other and knows that you can't look too far ahead. The second leg against Melbourne is a huge game.
“Melbourne is a tough opponent but so is every team at this stage is tough. The first leg was what we expected. It was disappointing to fall behind but we reacted well.”
“We have prepared as well as we can. We will try and keep things tight at the back while getting forward as much as possible.”