Even with more and more bad news coming from Jindo and the Sewol, Korean football ticked on. All six K League Classic games were held, and four of the five K League Challenge ties as well (Ansan-Goyang was canceled).
As Roy and Tim expressed in the ‘Weekend Listings’ post, I too send my thoughts and prayers to the victims and those affected by the increasingly senseless tragedy that is the Sewol.
K League Classic Results – Round 9
Busan IPark 1 – 0 Seongnam FC
Ulsan Hyundai 2 – 2 Suwon Samsung
Jeonnam Dragons 0 – 2 Jeonbuk Motors
FC Seoul 0 – 1 Pohang Steelers
Gyeongnam FC 0 – 0 Sangju Sangmu
Jeju United 1 – 0 Incheon United
Mini-Recaps (bit busy this week, so recaps will be very ‘mini’)
*A note on the video highlights. I’m aware that the videos may have territorial restrictions on them in certain countries, but I can’t tell you exactly which ones. SPOTV largely does not allow direct embedding into sites, so if you get a warning message you can click on it and it will take you directly to the video on SPOTV’s YouTube channel.
Busan 1 Seongnam 0
A sparse 1,000+ crowd saw Busan get back to winning ways against Seongnam. Fagner scored the only goal of the game in the 5′, which was his first of the season. Seongnam was a bit sloppy in conceding possession, and then sloppy in trying to clear it, but Fagner did well to hit the shot on the volley. From there the game largely quieted down, with Seongnam getting the better of the half-chances created. Park Joon-Gang picked up two quickfire yellow cards to get sent off right at the end.
Ulsan 2 Suwon 2
Probably the pick of the weekend. Suwon went up two before Ulsan stormed back to share the points. For national team watchers this game had some intrigue as it featured the two likely candidates to start in goal at Brazil. Unfortunately, neither Kim Seung-Gyu nor Jung Sung-Ryong managed to cover themselves in glory. Jung was the first in action as he denied Kim Shin-Wook in just the 2′. An error by Ulsan (and NT) rightback Lee Yong allowed Suwon to take the lead. Lee slipped, allowing Suwon to take the ball. Jung Tae-Se converted with ease. Kim continued to be the busier of the two keepers and was called into action soon after to keep the deficit at one. But Ulsan soon began to find their rhythm and they ratcheted up the pressure on Suwon and Jung Sung-Ryong. Kim Shin-Wook was denied by the post shortly before the break. Suwon should have had their second right before halftime as Jung Tae-Se beat the Ulsan offside trap and was through one on one, but his shot took a deflection as the defense got back, and went wide. Suwon would get their second 10 minutes after the restart. Santos Junior lost his marker at the back post to slot in from a free kick. With six minutes left, Ulsan got their first. Lee Yong burst down the right past Suwon defenders and crossed to Kim Min-Gyoon who shot low into the far corner, beating Jung Sung-Ryong. Ulsan continued to lay siege to the Suwon goal, and three minutes later the equalizer came. Yoo Joon-Su beat Jung at his near post after a mini-goal box scramble.
Jeonnam 0 Jeonbuk 2
It was a Jeolla-do derby to round out Saturday’s action. The early goings consisted of half-chances and speculative efforts from both sides, but in the 30′ Jeonbuk skipper, and highest paid Korean footballer, Lee Dong-Gook broke the deadlock. A simple cross found Lee unmarked at the back post and he headed past a helpless Kim Byung-Ji. The second half was similar to the first half. Most of the time both teams were kept to speculative efforts, with Jeonnam getting the slightly better of the chances. But in the end it was Jeonbuk that got the goal. A simple long ball over the top undid Jeonnam, as Han Kyo-Won got on the end of it and looped it over the onrushing Kim Byung-Ji to make it 2-0.
Seoul 0 Pohang 1
Another disappointing day for Seoul fans who saw their team lose again. An entertaining match that ultimately only saw one goal, but it was a very nice goal. Seoul played well, and will feel they should have scored at least once in the first half. Yoon Il-Rok continues to be a key player for them. His direct running, pace, and eye for goal always makes him a threat. Pohang was largely just hanging on, but in the 76′ the on-form Kim Seung-Dae produced some wonderful skill to waltz through the Seoul defense and slot home. It wasn’t all good though for Pohang as captain Hwang Ji-Soo was sent off for a second bookable offense after putting his hand up and catching Yoon Il-Rok in the face.
Gyeongnam 0 Sangju 0
A fairly open game that showed why Gyeongnam (12) and Sangju (11) top the goals conceded chart. Some better finishing from either side would have likely gotten their team the points. But as it was, they drew, a result which quite frankly helps neither side as they remain firmly in the bottom half.
Jeju 1 Incheon 0
Eight games. Eight games, 720 minutes. That’s how long it’s been since Incheon last scored. The drought continued down in Seogwipo, as Jeju emerged 1-0 winners over Incheon. Hugo Droguett scored the only goal after a terrible backpass was well short of it’s target. Droguett simply ran to the ball and scored easily.
Post-Round 9 Thoughts
- The split between top and bottom is becoming clearer. The only wildcard could be FC Seoul still struggling down there in 11th. The pre-split season is long this year, so there’s still time for them to make a charge.
- When will Incheon score? Their attack looks pathetic, but surely they’ll get lucky at some point…
- Battle of the keepers. Neither Jung Sung-Ryong nor Kim Seung-Gyu have been incredibly convincing early on. My admittedly biased notion would be that Lee Bum-Young has been the best of the bunch, but given his lack of experience at the senior level it seems unlikely.
K League Classic Table – After Round 9
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K League Challenge Results – Round 5
Gangwon FC 0 – 1 Daegu FC
Chungju Chummels 0 – 4 Daejeon Citizen
Suwon City FC 3 – 2 Bucheon 1995 FC
Gwangju FC 2 – 0 FC Anyang
Ansan Korea Police POSTPONED Goyang Hi FC
After putting four past Gwangju last week, Daejeon put another four past Chungju this week to stay top of the K League Challenge table. Gwangju bounced back from last week’s aforementioned setback by beating former leaders Anyang 2-0. Bucheon and Gangwon remain in dire straits as they both lost this weekend, to Suwon City and Daegu respectively. Since Ansan is where the students on the Sewol are from, the game between Ansan Korea Police and Goyang was postponed.
K League Challenge Table – After Round 5
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*Ansan and Goyang have played a game less
Korea U16 Advances to Mondial Football Montaigu Final
It went until the last match of the group stage, but Korea surged from last place to first place in their group at the Mondial Football Montaigu. After draws with Portugal (0-0) and England (1-1), Korea defeated Saudi Arabia 2-0 to top the group with 5 points. On April 22 Korea will face off against the Ivory Coast in the title game.
Big Money For Some
In line with an earlier announcement, the Korea Professional Footballers Association released a limited amount of financial information regarding team and player salaries.
*All salaries are on an annual basis. Team information is average.
Top 3 Paying Clubs
1. Jeonbuk Motors – $337,000
2. Suwon Samsung – $290,000
3. Ulsan Hyundai – $230,000
Top 3 Highest Paid Korean Players
1. Lee Dong-Gook (Jeonbuk) – $1,140,000
2. Kim Shin-Wook (Ulsan) – $1,070,000
3. Kim Doo-Hyun (Suwon) – $832,000
Top 3 Highest Paid Foreign Players
1. Mauricio Molina (Seoul) – $1,320,000
2. Leonardo (Jeonbuk) – $1,180,000
3. Server Djeparov (Seongnam) – $1,160,000
Park Jong-Hwan Goes Old School
A mini-scandal erupted in Seongnam last week as reports emerged that manager Park Jong-Hwan had slapped two players, Kim Sung-Joon and Kim Nam-Kwon during a practice match with Sunggyungwan University. Park has supposedly apologized to the two players, but it remains to be seen if that will be enough to save his job. Some of the directors reportedly want Park fired regardless, but final approval from club “owner” Lee Jae-Myung is required.
Midweek AFC Champions League Action
This week is the final matchday for the AFC CL group stage. As things stand, three of the four K League teams would qualify for the round of 16. Jeonbuk, Pohang, and Seoul would qualify, with Ulsan just missing out.
Kawasaki Frontale vs Ulsan Hyundai
Jeonbuk Motors vs Melbourne Victory
FC Seoul vs Beijing Guoan
Pohang Steelers vs Buriram United
Only Pohang is guaranteed qualification after five matches. Jeonbuk and Seoul will need at least a draw to ensure qualification. Should Jeonbuk draw, they will also need Guangzhou to not get spanked by Yokohama (an unlikely scenario). Jeonbuk currently has a +3 goal advantage on Yokohama. Seoul is currently first in their group, but the other three teams are just two points back on six points (Seoul has eight). Ulsan has the toughest task as they will need to go to Japan and pick up a win in order to overtake Kawasaki Frontale.