This week’s rice wine ramble almost never happened due to the efforts of an over-zealous security guard who insisted on a bag search that would have put the Secret Service to shame. Needless to say as he was gleefully pulling beers out of my bag I has hoping he would stop before locating the bottle of Jeju’s finest Hallbong Makgeolli (한라봉막걸리) in the bottom of the bag under the cooler, he did and there was much rejoicing as it was opened at half-time.
The game in question was Seongnam FC vs Jeju United and was the first midweek K1 clash of the season. With a little luck I had managed to convince my boss to give me a half-day so it was not quite the rush that most midweek games down in Seongnam tend to be. I got there in plenty of time, secured some all important beers (although most would make the trip back home again) and headed to the Blackzone and that unexpected bag search which was to to prove to be the most enjoyable part of the next 45 mins!
Seongnam had started the previous two home clashes on the front foot, looking to upset their opponents and strike the first blow, on this occasion though they were nothing short of woeful as they played like a team who had never seen each other before. Jeju on the other hand sensed blood and, with Aguilar in particular, pushed forward causing all sorts of problems for the home defence. Seongnam have been poor at the back all season and continue to gift their opponents chances and so it was no surprise that Jeju finally took one of the opportunities presented to them. Again it was that man Aguilar causing all the problems as he easily danced through The Magpies’ defence only for Tiago Marquez to nick it off his foot and apply the finish, slotting it past Kim Dong-jun in goals. It was a deserved lead and to be honest one that Jeju should have at least doubled before HT. But as the whistle sounded and the makgeolli was opened both sets of players made their way up the tunnel with the visitors leading 1-0 although Seongnam did finish brightly.
The 2nd half started much like the 1st with Jeju on the front foot and Aguilar dictating play, Seongnam though were beginning to grow in confidence and started to take more control of the midfield and you felt the goal was coming. It finally did arrive when on 60 mins Kim Min-hyeok threaded an inch perfect ball through the middle and Mathias Coureur raced onto it to calmly and coolly slide the ball past the keeper and level the score. Nam Ki-il likes his teams to play football on the deck with lots of those little intricate triangles that we tend to be seeing more and more and so it good to see a good old-fashioned striker running onto a through ball. 1-1 and I was beginning to wish I had a brought a second bottle of the Hallabong, as the more I drank the better Seongnam played…. maybe those two things are linked!
Both teams pushed forward in pursuit of the winner and they each had half chances to steal all 3pts but to no avail and the game finished with Seongnam’s Kim Jeong-hyun blazing a free-kick over the bar from such an acute angle that Ronaldo himself would have chosen not to shoot.
As the fans made their way out the stadium and back into the dark night and, for myself, that long journey back to Seoul all that was left to do was take a photo of the “proper” Moran floodlights and, of course, reclaim my beers from the pesky security guard smug in the knowledge that he missed my makgeolli and made Vol 5 possible!