The ACLE ticket fight for the ‘Gwangju-Jeonbuk-Incheon 3-way match’ is not over.

There is a reason for the record-breaking box office success. The 2023 K-League 1 season is not over until it is over. With the relegation war unfolding at its hottest of all time, the fight for tickets to the Asian Champions League Elite (ACLE) is no different.

Next season, ACL will change to a new format. It is divided into ACLE and ACL2. In terms of European soccer, ACL Elite is the European Champions League and ACL2 is the Europa League. In the K-League, the league champion and FA Cup winner advance directly to the ACLE finals, and the second-place team advances to the ACLE playoffs. The 3rd place team in the league moves to ACL2. While Ulsan Hyundai decided to win the K League 1 early on, Pohang Steelers, who finished in second place, won the FA Cup, and the next ranked team, third place, was ACLE, and the fourth place team took the ACL2 ticket.

The Maginot Line of ACLE tickets, the final battle for third place unfolds. The three teams in the firing line are Gwangju FC, Jeonbuk Hyundai, and Incheon United. Gwangju, who had been making a sensation all season and had the potential to reach not only 3rd place but also 2nd place, faltered at the last minute and the atmosphere changed. While Gwangju (58 points) was unable to secure 3rd place due to a draw in 3 consecutive games, Jeonbuk (57 points) was chasing, and even Incheon (56 points) joined in. Incheon won 3-1 at home against Ulsan on the 24th, and Jeonbuk defeated Gwangju 2-0 at home on the 25th, making the battle for third place more complicated.

Now the competition for third place will be decided through the final round. The advantageous side is Gwangju. If Gwangju wins, it will be the first team to advance to ACLE on its own. Director Lee Jeong-hyo said, “It became fun.” They even have a physical advantage over Jeonbuk and Incheon, who play ACL games during the week. Gwangju invites Pohang to their home.

Jeonbuk and Incheon are desperate. For Jeonbuk, which has been ranked unmatched for the first time in 10 years this season, advancing to the ACLE is nothing short of pride. If this fails, it will go down in history as a season full of scars. First of all, we have to win unconditionally and see the results in Gwangju, but the opponent is difficult. The final match of the ‘Hyundai Derby’ will be held against Ulsan. It’s an expedition to Ulsan. As Ulsan decided to hold a victory ceremony against Jeonbuk, Jeonbuk is determined not to be a sideshow.

Incheon, which entered the ACL for the first time last season, is dreaming of advancing to the ACL again this year to continue its development. If possible, ACLE is better than ACL2. Although Incheon has many injuries, its young resources are performing well to fill the void. Incheon is on the road to Daegu, and as they are ahead in motivation, they are aiming for a final miracle.




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