The humdrum of the International week is over, Korea securing an important victory against Kuwait and playing out a rather predictable 3-0 friendly win over Jamaica who struggled to look anything like the Reggae Boys of old. The highlight of the Internationals must have been goals from Ji Dong Won and a first international goal from Seongnam FC’s very own Hwang Uijo who has now managed to score in every type of match possible this season; league, ACL, FA Cup and now National team.
All eyes will now be focused on the Championship over the next couple of weeks; can Suwon wrestle the title off Jeonbuk, who will claim the final two ACL spots and will Adriano or Hwang Uijo take home the Golden Boot. This weekend sees the first round of matches and it serves up a couple of tasty looking games.
Jeonbuk v Pohang (Saturday 3pm)
As I previewed in an earlier post this was probably the one match that Jeonbuk feared getting first. The Champion’s form has not exactly been stable this season and Pohang have been the main team who have exploited that. They knocked them out the FA Cup in the early rounds and have proven to be a bit of a thorn in the side for the men in green and are thus far unbeaten in the last three contests between the teams. The previous encounters this year have finished 3-0 Pohang, 2-1 Pohang (FA Cup), 0-0 and 1-0 Jeonbuk which does back up the popular theory that Pohang have learned how to play the table-toppers. Pohang are the form team with four wins in a row while Jeonbuk lost their last match in Jeju in that epic five goal thriller. It should be a great match for the neutral with a lot at stake for both teams . Jeonbuk are sitting 8pts clear at the top of the league and with only 15pts to play for it is going to take a monumental challenge from Suwon or a disastrous collapse from Jeonbuk to see the trophy leave Jeonju but stranger things have happened and a defeat on Saturday could just shake the Motors a little.
Prediction : Jeonbuk 1 Pohang 1
Suwon v Jeju (Sunday 2pm)
Second takes on sixth in what is possibly the match which on paper has the least at stake. Many consider Suwon to have little chance of prying the title from Jeonbuk’s hands and wield a 6pt lead over the other ACL chasing teams whereas Jeju have nothing but pride to play for which in itself can be a game leveler at times. Both teams had pretty big results in their last outings, Jeju with that hugely important 3-2 victory over Jeonbuk and Suwon with a resounding 4-2 win away to Gwangju. Both have similar form over the last five games and neither has really caught the eye all season, well not for the right reasons anyway. Jeju have uncharacteristically shipped 50 goals second worst only to Daejeon. Suwon have found themselves with a share of the points nine times which is probably the main reason they trail Jeonbuk by so much, well that and a failure to beat them all season. Suwon have won all three matches between the teams this season amazingly scoring 4 goals on two occasions. They look to have the beating of Jeju and if Jeonbuk were to slip up 24hrs earlier against Pohang this match could just be massive in the title race.
Prediction : Swuon 2 Jeju 0
Seongnam v Seoul (Sunday 4pm)
It seems like only last week that both teams were squaring up to each other at Seoul World Cup Stadium, that match ended 1-0 to the visitors and practically confirmed that Kim Hak Bum’s men would be strutting their stuff with the elite in the top 6 instead of plugging away against the poorer cousins of the bottom 6 (which is probably where most expected them to find themselves at this point). It’s been a good season for Seongnam this year with successes in the ACL being supported by some good results and performances in the league. One of the main reasons for their high position in the table has been their results against the traditional ‘big four’ of Jeonbuk, Pohang, Suwon and Seoul. The three previous matches with Seoul have resulted in two 1-1 draws and the most recent 1-0 away victory in Seoul World Cup Stadium. The wily old Kim looks to have the better of his counterpart Choi Yong Soo again this year. This is a huge match for both teams but undoubtedly it’s bigger for Seongnam. Seoul have the FA Cup final to look forward to and you can’t see them blowing finals two years in a row in their own stadium. That leaves the final ACL spot being a face-off between Seongnam and Pohang which is why Seongnam really need to win this match against Seoul. They have won three in a row compared to Seoul’s two in the league plus Wednesday night’s FA Cup semi-final victory. The outcome of this match will probably come down to the performances of two or three players, performances from Kim Do Heon and Hwang Uijo will be essential for Seongnam and Seoul will be looking to Osmar and Adriano as the key men to shore up the defence and snatch a goal respectively. it should be a good game both in terms of tactics deployed by the coaches and passion on the pitch.
Prediction : Seongnam 1 Seoul 1