This season, the battle for the top spot in professional soccer’s K League 1 has never been more intense. It looked like it was going to get a little fresher as leaders Ulsan Hyundai went on a run, but with no significant point differential between the top and mid-table teams, the battle for a spot in Final A (1-6) will continue into the final stretch of the league.
First-place Ulsan (61 points) earned just one point in a 2-2 draw away to FC Seoul on Nov. 27. They had a chance to extend their lead over the second-place Pohang Steelers (50 points), but were held back by a much improved FC Seoul (40 points) team under acting head coach Kim Jin-gyu.
When asked after the game what he thought was the most important point, Ulsan’s Lee In-gyu, who scored multiple goals on the day, said, “The gap between us and the second-place team is only 10 to 11 points. I thought this was an important game because it would give us confidence that if we can get over the hump, we can get to 13 points or even more.” 온라인바카라
Still, Ulsan has some breathing room as they were the first of the 12 teams to reach the 60-point plateau. Pohang’s remaining games are crucial as they are being chased by a number of mid-table teams that are on the rise, with their next match being away to Incheon United, a team that has recently turned into a powerhouse.
Sixth-placed Incheon (40 points), the final Final A team, has been on a roll of late, qualifying for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL) for the first time in its 20-year history. Led by the ‘King of Incheon’ Mugosa, the club has won seven, drawn two and lost one in official matches since July. On the 25th, the team earned three points in an away match against Suwon FC thanks to a late theater goal. After the game, Incheon head coach Cho Sung-hwan called it a “valuable point” and expressed his confidence, saying, “We will move up to a position where we can go all-in on the ACL.”
Gwangju FC (42 points), which has been on such a scary run that it was named the best team in the 28th round, will host leader Ulsan on March 3. Despite a 0-1 loss to Ulsan on March 2, Gwangju has since gone unbeaten in eight consecutive matches. Four Gwangju players, including MVP Uhm Ji Sung, were included in the ‘Best 11’ for Round 28.
Seoul will play the ‘Super Match’ at Suwon Samsung next month on March 2. After showing his colors in the first match against Ulsan, Seoul’s acting captain Kim Jin-gyu made it clear that he will prepare for the away match against Suwon with a “fighting spirit,” hoping to get a point.
Kim, who was confident that he would see “10 Jin-gyu (field players) on the field” in the home match against Ulsan, told reporters after the game, “I think only three or four (Jin-gyu) showed up,” and vowed to show his colors more clearly in the next match.
“No matter what position you play, if you don’t have a fighting spirit and don’t fight, you won’t be used on the field,” Kim told the players as he attempted to clean up the team’s recent mess. The players have recognized that and are preparing to play such players in the next game.”
Jeonbuk Hyundai (42 points), who are winless in their last three league matches, will host Jeju United on March 3.