Now that the league has split it’s time for the annual headache for the K-League as they try to work out how to balance the number of home games each team has and also try to keep the league interesting for as long as possible. This year Seongnam undoubtedly caused a few more Tylenol to be consumed as nobody would have predicted them making the top six never mind at the expense of Ulsan. I reckon if Incheon hadn’t thrown it away in the last round we could have seen K-League executives running around like Doc Brown from Back to the Future.
The fixtures threw up some interesting schedule choices I’ve listed what I think are the top 5 matches below.
Jeonbuk v Pohang – Oct 17th
If there was one team from the top six that Jeonbuk wouldn’t have wanted first it was probably Pohang. Having not been content with knocking the champions out of the FA Cup, Pohang then went on to humiliate them 3-0 at The Steelyard in mid-August and expose just how unsure this Jenobuk team can be at times. With Suwon hosting Jeju on the 18th you get the feeling that Jenobuk’s lead will take a little bit of a dent over the opening weekend.
Seongnam v Seoul – Oct 18th
Fresh from claiming their first league win at Sangam in what seemed like an eternity Seongnam will come into this one with confidence brimming. Both teams are challenging Pohang, and maybe Suwon if they implode, for the ACL spots for next season. Scheduling this match between 4th and 5th so soon together in the first round could open up a gap both mathematically and mentally for the winning team. If a Seongnam victory was to follow on from a Seoul defeat to Ulsan in the FA Cup semi-final (match to be played Wednesday Oct 14th) then it could all but end Seoul’s season.
Seoul v Suwon – Nov 7th
Often one of the main highlights of the Korean football season Nov 7th sees the final Supermatch of the season. Sure this year has seen the first ever goalless draw between the two rivals but it has also delivered 9 goals in the other two games. A 5-1 drubbing by Suwon in the opening match was some way leveled out by the recent 3-0 victory for Seoul in the Big Bird Stadium. Given everything that could be at stake when this one comes around it has all the potential to be another absolute cracker.
Suwon v Pohang – Nov 22nd
I was there when the men from the South high-jacked Suwon’s birthday celebrations (still can’t forget the cake hat Yeom Ki Hoon was wearing) in the opening match of the season. Just like the Supermatch above both teams potentially go into this match with everything to play for. Out of the FA Cup, finishing 2nd or 3rd is the only way to guarantee an ACL place next year, with only 4pts separating the two teams as the league splits it really could be a ‘ding-dong’ battle between these two teams for 2nd spot.
Suwon v Jeonbuk – Nov 29th
Memories of Ulsan/Pohang 2013 are obviously still fresh in the mind at K-League Towers judging by the timing of this match. Who can forget the dramatic scenes as Pohang coaxed the ball over the line in the final minute to send their fans into raptures and Kim Shin Wook back to the dressing room. It was an amazing way to end the season and however unlikely it is that we will see a repeat this year the K-League top brass are providing us with the chance. It would take Suwon overturning an 8pt gap, being far more consistent than they have been all season and hoping that Jeonbuk continue to falter. If it comes down to the final day with Suwon needing a victory to prise the title away from the champions you wonder if they would have the bottle to rise to the occasion.
The full list of fixtures can be found here