Sunday July 6th threatened to be the Sunday of Champions, the K-league had returned in style on Saturday night with the live TBS match between Jeonnam and Seoul being a pretty decent game and today was to see the return to Tancheon for the first time in two months so all was looking good. I also decided to stop over at Seoul Racecourse for a quick flutter before heading over to Yatap. I’m not the world’s biggest gambler but with some pretty sweet ‘inside’ information I can say that I’ve never left Gwacehon out of pocket. This time though the main positive happened to be a performance by none other than Dalshabet. Seoul Racecourse has so far had performances from Girls Day, Hello Venus and Dalshbet, well you need ‘something’ to help the ajussis ‘be ambitious’ with their bets! (Pardon the awful kpop puns!)
Soon after Dalshabet had stopped ‘performing’ it was time to make the long and tiring journey to Yatap. 90% of the time taking the subway in Seoul is great but when it’s bad, man it’s bad. To get to Yatap we had to transfer to three different lines so needless to say a cold beer was well deserved when we got there. Tancheon is a cool little stadium, it’s a great stadium to watch football in even if you are a little far away from the action.
The game started with Kim Seung Gyu in goals for Ulsan after his brief appearances at the World Cup. You couldn’t help but wonder how he was feeling having only 9 days prior been between the sticks in Brazil against Belgium and now found himself facing the daunting prospect of Djeparov running at him!
The game started, not for the first time this season, slowly and I think both teams were feeling the adverse effects of having an almost two month break. Kim Shin Wook was given some extra time to recover from the World Cup, a little ironic when you consider he’d basically had a two-month break too. Seongnam this season have had a pretty sturdy defence and have been tough to break down and this was on display again today. The game had one of those kind of ‘end of season’ feels about it with both teams looking like they would take a 0-0 draw which I think reflects more on their title aspirations than anything else. The HT whistle sounded with neither team looking under pressure and my mind started drifting towards some Yatap fried chicken and of course the ubiquitous bottle(s) of Soju that accompanies such.
The crowd was announced at just over 4000, which is roughly about 1/4 full and although not going to break any attendance records wasn’t a bad turnout for a Sunday evening against Ulsan. The biggest problem for the Kleague is Baseball, for some strange reason Koreans seem to prefer watching rounders as opposed to football. I always thought baseball was something you played in gym class when the teacher was too hungover to look for the coloured bibs and cones.
And so on to the second half, again like the first it began a little slow and even the memories of Dalshabet and my racetrack winnings were beginning to fade. Things started to look up a little around the 60min mark as both teams started to appear a little more lively and it looked like there might be a breakthrough soon. Then suddenly on 70 mins we got the spark the game needed. The ball fell to Yoo Jun Soo on the edge of the area and he let rip with a cracking shot that easily beat Jeon Sang Wook in goal and it was 1-0 Ulsan. It was a great strike and it really did spark the game into life. Suddenly Seongnam realized they had to go for it and were going to be made to work for a draw. They started pouring men forward and forced Kim into a couple of good saves and one pretty much world-class one from a close-range header. You could sense the equalizer was coming and with 7 mins left Hwang Ui-Jo squared the match with a pretty sweet effort. He picked the ball up near the byline and worked his way into the box before firing past Kim from a tight angle. It was nothing less than Seongnam deserved, but it was a shame that it took a goal from Ulsan to give them to kick they needed.
The rest of the match was played out and both sets of players looked pretty happy with the score at FT. Kim Seung Kyu was awarded Man of the Match which summed up the last 20 mins after Ulsan took the lead. As we made our way to our favourite chicken restaurant talk turned towards Seongnam’s next match away to Incheon on Wednesday evening. With Incheon’s current poor run of form it should make for a good game.