It could have all been so perfect for Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors’ Kim Bokyung. The Korea Republic international’s 23rd-minute strike fired Jeonbuk in front against Club America in Osaka in the FIFA Club World Cup second round, and the prospect of a mouth-watering semi-final against Real Madrid seemed in touching distance.
But in the end, it wasn’t to be for Kim and the AFC Champions League winners. Despite going into the break as leaders, Jeonbuk were left to rue a Silvio Romero-inspired comeback. The Argentinian striker bagged two second-half goals to send the Mexican outfit into the semi-finals and leave the Korea Republic side’s dreams of playing Los Blancos in tatters.
“It’s an honour to play at the Club World Cup. Even though we didn’t get the result we wanted, it was an exciting match to play in and I’m happy to play at this tournament,” a philosophical Kim told FIFA.com after the match.
“It is disappointing to miss out on playing Real Madrid, our primary goal as a team was to face them. We would have loved to have played them but that’s football. The result on the day wasn’t enough to see us through.”
After Kim put Jeonbuk in front with a superbly-placed shot into the bottom corner, the 27-year-old midfielder capped off his opener with a trademark Cristiano Ronaldo celebration, accompanied by team-mate Lee Jaesung.
“We were focused on wanting to play Real Madrid in the semi-final, it was our main priority to play them at the Club World Cup,” said Kim. “Once I scored, it seemed like a likely scenario and the Cristiano Ronaldo celebration felt like the natural thing to do. It was the first time I had ever done the celebration.”
Back to where it began
Playing at the Suita City Football Stadium gave Kim the chance to return to the city of Osaka. A former English Premier League player with Cardiff City, Kim started his career with then J1 League side Cerezo Osaka before moving to the Cardiff City Stadium in 2012, where he won promotion to the English top-flight in his first season.
“I was excited to play in front of an Osaka crowd again, as this is where I started my career,” he said. “I’m pleased I was able to score here in front of them.”
While disappointed not to reach the semi-finals of the Club World Cup, the match for fifth place presents an opportunity for Jeonbuk to finish Japan 2016 on a high. They will have to be at their best if they are to overcome an energetic Mamelodi Sundowns side, however, who also missed out on a semi-final place after suffering a 2-0 defeat against J.League champions Kashima Antlers.
“Even though I scored, it’s disappointing to lose. But we will keep trying our best for Jeonbuk, Korean and Asian football fans,” said Kim, who represented his country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. “Our initial goal was to meet with Real Madrid but now that it’s gone, we want to bounce back in our final match with a win and give everything we have for the fans.”