Last week’s K-League had a bit of an “old school” feel to it as Ulsan, Jeonbuk, Seoul and Bluewings all ran out winners with Jeju United being the only “top six” team still hugely under-performing as they remain the only team in K-League One without a victory to their name. Seongnam finally managed to buck the trend of conceding the first goal as they took the lead down in Daegu but were unable to hold on to it and boarded the KTX with a share of the points while Gyeongnam left Seoul feeling more than just a tad unlucky.
We have three games on Saturday as Tuesday’s Asian Champions League representatives Jeonbuk and Gyeongnam are in action as well as a bottom six clash down in Moran. First up, Champions Jeonbuk travel to Jeju on the back of a hard fought 1-0 victory in Japan courtesy of an Adriano strike. The Brazilian striker has been used incredibly sparingly by Jose Morais in the league this year playing only 7 mins , he took his goal well in midweek and may have given his manager the beginning of a headache at least as he sits down to select this week’s eleven to face the Islanders. Last weekend they had a pretty straightforward 2-0 win over Incheon with Moon Seon-min scoring against his old team. Jeju also had an ex-Incheon player on the scoresheet as Aguilar opened the scoring against Pohang in their 1-1 draw in The Steelyard. A victory would see Jeonbuk top the table for the first time this year albeit until Ulsan play on Sunday.
The remaining fixtures on Saturday see Gyeongnam hoping to bounce back from a ridiculous collapse against Kashima Antlers in the ACL as they threw away a 2-1 lead with 6 mins to play with the J-League team down to 10 me. They ended up incredibly losing the match 3-2. If their fans had been laughing at Jeonbuk for a similar collapse only a few days earlier they were left scratching their heads come full-time as their qualification hopes hang by the thinnest of threads. They host Sangju who’s stellar form in the opening weeks is almost a distant memory as they’ve lost two of the last three.
Finally we have Seongnam welcoming Pohang to town in a match loosely being billed with a “Remember” tagline due to that all too painful defeat in The Steelyard in November 2016 that saw The Magpies consigned to the playoffs. Last weekend Seongnam returned from Daegu with a 1-1 draw after Eder gave them a deserved 1st half lead. They could have lost the game had Kim Jin-hyeok not somehow missed a 93rd minute header when it seemed easier to score. Pohang fought back from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Jeju at home with Lee Seok-hyun providing the goal. Nether team has particularly impressed thus far and it’s probably a safe bet that both teams look very likely still be playing in the bottom six come November this year again. If so, will Seongnam get the ultimate revenge?
First up on Sunday we have Daegu making the trip North as they travel to Suwon World Cup Stadium to face Bluewings after being outclassed in Japan midweek by Sanfreece Hiroshima. They’ll be looking to bounce back in the ‘bread and butter’ of domestic football against a Bluewings team that turned around a rather drab affair in Gangwon last Sunday thanks to the 60th minute introduction of Dejan who needed only 6 minutes to fire his team into the lead. There’s not a whole lot you can say about the man that hasn’t already been, quite often sycophantically, written. But when called upon fewer players are as reliable as the man himself and you know that if Bluewings are to compete for any honour this year that he’ll be there at the front of it all.
Sunday also sees the first of two visits to Gangwon in the space of four days for FC Seoul as both teams also clash in the FA Cup midweek. Seoul bounced back from their defeat at the hands Ulsan by, rather fortuitously, defeating Gyeongnam “reserves” in Seoul last weekend with Aleksandar Pesic bagging his first goal for the club. Gangwon looked lost at times against Bluewings and have now lost two in a row, three is a very realistic possibility.
The final match of the weekend sees Incheon host Ulsan as they hope to somehow halt their run of four defeats in a row, giving the fact they’re facing Korea’s in-form team you would have to imagine that’s highly unlikely. Teams losing and drawing above them have managed to keep Incheon from falling behind even though they do prop up the table but they do have a couple of derbies on the horizon and defeat in those would be disaster. Ulsan could not come into the game on more of a high, sitting undefeated at top of the league they are also the only team not to concede in this year’s ACL group stage and even this early in the season look like a team that will get its hands on something sliver come the winter. They won midweek against Kawasaki Frontale through the unlikeliest of heroes as Kim Su-an glanced a cross past ex-Bluewings keeper Jung Sung-ryong in the 92nd minute to send them top of Group H. They are head and shoulders above anyone else in Korea right now, the question is can they last a full season?