The last round of the K League Classic is upon us and we have exciting matches at both the top and bottom. Who will win the title? Who will be relegated? Who will qualify for next season’s AFC Champions League? Read on!
K League Classic – Top Half
First off, there were midweek matches this week (why?). So let’s update those results.
Jeonbuk and Seoul both won, so they remain level on points, but for the second round in a row Jeonbuk piled on the goals (5-0 vs Jeonnam and 4-1 vs Sangju), so they stretch their goals scored advantage considerably (Seoul managed 2-0 vs Jeju and 2-1 vs Jeonnam). Jeju’s 0-0 draw with Ulsan ensured that the island side will be in next season’s AFC Champions League. The two teams remain 3 points apart but Jeju has a massive +28 goals scored advantage over Ulsan.
The highlight match of the round is Jeonbuk vs Seoul without a doubt. Seoul will have to travel down to Jeonju World Cup Stadium and beat the green boys in order to win the title. A tall order considering Seoul has lost all three league encounters to Jeonbuk this season (0-1, 2-3, 1-3), although they did win the most recent encounter (2-1) in the 2nd leg of their ACL semifinal tie. Seoul’s last league win over Jeonbuk was back in June 2015. Jeonbuk’s record against Seoul in the last two seasons (league) stands at an impressive 5-1-1.
There isn’t too much to say about the other two matches. As mentioned earlier, Jeju has already secured qualification to the ACL so they have little to play for. The same is true for Ulsan who have secured fourth place. Ulsan can qualify for the AFC Champions League if Seoul wins the KFA Cup (see below). A Sangju win combined with a Jeonnam loss could see the army side jump up to 5th, which while meaning little in terms of reward, would cap a remarkable season for them when many (myself included) tipped them for relegation.
K League Classic – Bottom Half
Let’s post those midweek scores again so we can remind ourselves of the bottom.
Two big results from midweek. Suwon Samsung’s win over Incheon sees the Bluewings ensure their safety and place in next season’s K League Classic. Similarly Gwangju’s 1-1 draw with Pohang ensures their status in next year’s Classic. Down at the other end Suwon FC’s 2-1 win over Seongnam means they have a shot at being in the Classic next season (although it remains a tall order).
Incheon vs Suwon FC is the one to watch on Saturday. One of these two clubs will be relegated, and in all likelihood that will be Suwon FC. Mathematically they have a chance of pushing Incheon down and at least making the playoffs, but it’ll be a difficult task. Suwon FC must win the match and win by 3 goals. Incheon has a 3 point lead, +2 goals scored lead, and a +8 goals difference advantage. Pohang vs Seongnam is also one to keep an eye on. An Incheon win would put both at danger for falling into the playoffs. Both Pohang and Seongnam sit on 43 points (Incheon is on 42). Due to the goals scored difference, Pohang is in slightly more danger as they really will need to win to ensure their status next season. A draw would be sufficient for Seongnam who would stay above Pohang in the table. Suwon Samsung and Gwangju will be playing for pride as they have both ensured their safety.
K League Challenge – Playoffs
The first round of the playoffs was also played midweek, and (sniff, sniff) Gangwon defeated Busan 1-0 thanks to an 89′ winner from Matheus. Gangwon advance to face Bucheon this weekend in Bucheon. The winner of that match will qualify for the two-legged final playoff match against the 11th-placed K League Classic side.
KFA Cup – Finals
With Seoul out of the ACL and Suwon Samsung clear of the relegation battle, the KFA has finally announced the schedule for the KFA Cup finals.
The first leg will be played at Suwon World Cup Stadium on Sunday, November 27 (2pm KST) with SBS Sports broadcasting the match live. The second leg will be played at Seoul World Cup Stadium on December 3 (again 2PM KST kick) with MBC broadcasting the match.
Youth National Teams News
During the upcoming weeks/international break, Korea’s U-19 men’s team and U-20 women’s team will also be in action.
The talking point for the men’s team is the inclusion of Barcelona youth players Lee Seung-woo and Paik Seung-ho. This is also the U-19 teams first match since the resignation of Ahn Ik-soo following the poor AFC U-19 Champioship showing last month. The U-19 team will take on Iran (11/8), England (11/10), and Nigeria (11/12). All the matches will be at Suwon World Cup Stadium.
GK: Song Bum-geun (Korea U.), Ahn Jun-su (Cerezo Osaka), Moon Jung-in (Hyundai HS)
DF: Lee Yoo-hyun (Dankook U.), Choi Ik-jin (Aju U.), Lee Jung-moon (Chungnam Technical HS), Woo Chan-yang (Pohang), Jung Tae-wook (Aju U.), Lee Yeon-gyu (Kyunghee U.), Jung Jae-won (Hyundai HS), Yoon Jong-gyu (Sangal HS)
MF: Kim Gun-woong (Ulsan), Kim Jin-gyu (Busan), Kim Jung-min (Keumho HS), Kim Si-woo (Gwangju), Han Chan-hee (Jeonnam), Lee Seung-mo (Pohang Jecheol HS), Kang Ji-hoon (Yongin U.), Paik Seung-ho (Barcelona), Park Sang-hyeok (Maetan HS), Lee Sang-heon (Keumho HS), Kim Jin-ya (Daegeon HS), Lee Seung-woo (Barcelona)
FW: Cho Young-wook (Eonnam HS), Lee Gi-woon (Dankook U.)
Finally, the U-20 women’s team is also in action as they begin the U-20 Women’s World Cup down in Papua New Guinea.
U-20 Women’s World Cup Callups
GK: Kim Min-jeong (Daeduk U.), Kim Do-hyun (Ulsan Science U.), Kwon Hae-in (Yesung Girls HS)
DF: Kim Hye-in (Uiduk U.), Lee Ah-in (Korea U.), Kim Jin-hee (Daegu Dongbu HS), Maeng Dahee (Ulsan Science U.), Yoon Sunyoung (Sejong Sports Council), Lee Hyokyung (Hokuriku U.), Hong Hyeji (Korea U.)
MF: Park Yeeun (Korea U.), Namgung Yeji (Korea U.), Song Jiyoon (Korea U.), Han Chaerin (Uiduk U.), Lee Sohee (Sejong Sports Council), Kang Chaerim (Dongsan Information HS), Ko Yoojin (Korea U.)
FW: Choi Heejung (Gangwon Provincial College), Kim Soeun (Yesung Girls HS), Kim Sungmi (Ulsan Science U.), Jang Chang (Korea U.)
The women’s team will face Mexico (11/14), Venezuela (11/17), and Germany in group D action. Best of luck to the girls! SBS Sports will broadcast the final group match vs Germany live.