The last round of matches finally brought an end to probably one of the most predictable title races of the last decade (Scotland obviously not included). To say Jeonbuk had it wrapped up early would be an understatement and only the most passionate of fans would have given their team a chance of wrestling the title away from the champions. It was the footballing equivalent of watching Taken with Liam Neesson, come on nobody really thought he wouldn’t save his daughter as soon as she was ‘taken’. Pohang did throw a spanner in the works when they snatched the 3pts in Round 1 after the split but it was too little too late from the Steelers and by the far the best team won.
So with the title wrapped up the focus now turns to the pecking order of the trailing pack. Pohang currently sit 2nd, two points clear of Suwon and Seoul, who are separated only by goal difference, followed in 5th by Seongnam who now need a mini miracle if they are to make the ACL for the second season in a row. So with that in mind here are this week’s Championship Group Previews.
Jeonbuk v Seongnam (Sat 3pm)
So with some huffing and puffing (aided by some referees) Jeonbuk finally fell over the line and clinched the title with a 1-0 victory away to Jeju while at the same time Seongnam were shooting themselves in the foot again with another lackluster performance resulting in a goalless draw in The Steelyard. It would probably have come as no surprise that it was 23yrd old ‘wonderkid’ Lee Jae Sung who got the goal that kept the league trophy in Jeonju for at least another year. He’s had a pretty sweet season having played his way into the National team and already has an Asian Games gold and an East Asian Cup winners medal under his belt, it was a fitting way for him to wrap up the year.
Seongnam’s fortunes on the other hand haven’t been quite so good as they haven’t exactly hit a purple patch of form since the split. A last minute reverse at home to Seoul has been followed by two frustrating goalless draws which has left their ACL hopes in tatters. They are not out of the race yet and if they can claim full points from their last two matches with Suwon losing theirs then they would claim the final spot courtesy of FC Seoul winning the FA Cup, but then again just because I keep going to Dalshabet fan meetings doesn’t mean I’m dating Woo Hee. This is probably the best time for Seongnam to play Jeonbuk what with them officially champions so maybe just maybe they can get the result that keeps their hopes alive, at least until Sunday.
Prediction : Jeonbuk 1 Seongnam 0
Jeju v Seoul (Sat 4pm)
It’s a trip to the island for newly crowned FA Cup winners Seoul, who will be hoping to fare better than the last time the two teams played in Seogwipo with the hosts winning that one 2-1. Jeju looked to be in good form leading up to the split but have since lost their last two matches and with their shocking record against Seoul (2 wins from 31) you would be hard pushed to imagine them stopping that poor run. Seoul don’t really have much more than pride to play for as they have already clinched a spot in next season’s ACL cas a result of winning the FA Cup. Their last match was the rip-roaring 4-3 Supermatch victory over Suwon which was achieved without Adriano or the now-retired Cha Duri. It will be interesting to see if Choi brings back the Brazilian back into the team or continues with four goal hero Yun Ju Tae, of course knowing Choi he will probably go with neither option. With nothing much at stake for both teams we could be in for a rather long 90 mins of football.
Prediction : Jeju 0 Seoul 0
Suwon v Pohang (Sun 2pm)
The last time these two crossed swords at The Big Bird there were cake hats, birthday fireworks and a red card here’s hoping this one can live up to the billing. As mentioned above both teams are virtually guaranteed to be playing in the ACL next year barring a minor disaster for Suwon so the match might not have the edge to it that the K-League were probably hoping for when they scheduled this second last match of the season. The previous encounters this season have been tight with a goalless draw and two 1-0 wins apiece. The last round of matches saw Suwon lose 4-3 in the Supermatch and Pohang held to a 0-0 by Seongnam and in fact Suwon have failed to record a win since the league split. It really has been their early form and in particular the goals of Chong Tae Se that have kept them in their lofty league position. Pohang will want to bounce back with a victory after seeing their faint title hopes crushed in the last round. On paper this should be an open attacking match between two of the better teams in the league but in all reality it will probably end up another tight match with the one goal winning it.
Prediction : Suwon 0 Pohang 1