Gyeongnam emerges victorious in the war of split

26 Aug

As expected, fans in South Korea witnessed one of the most exciting rounds in the history of the domestic K-League in the Sunday evening. 4 teams were fighting in 4 different stadiums to snatch the last ticket to the Group A, which consists of top 8 teams and will compete for the trophy and 3 AFC Champions League tickets.

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Before the round, Incheon United was the one that was holding the ticket, ranked at 8th with 39 points. Just behind was Daegu FC, also with 39 points but less goal difference. Gyeongnam FC with 37 points and Seongnam Ilhwa with 36 points were behind, hoping for a last-minute drama. And the last-minute drama did come.

Incheon drew with Jeju in a thrilling but goalless match, Seongnam drew 1-1 with the rivals Suwon and Daegu was defeated by Seoul. Meanwhile, Gyeongnam came back from 0-1 to make it 2-1 against Gwangju FC in the second half. Gyeongnam eventually stepped up from 10th to 8th and snatched the last ticket to the Group A to dream for the AFC Champions League tickets.

Gyeongnam coach Choi Jin-Han seemed very excited after the game. “I did not care about other teams’ results. I only focused on this game. Victory was the only thing that stayed in my mind throughout the game,” said the 51 year old manager.

While Gyeongnam was celebrating an unexpected triumph, the rest three teams could not hide disappointment. “Of course it is disappointing,” said Kim Nam-Il, Incheon’s veteran midfielder. “But I am proud that we made improvement after terrible performance early this season.”

“I learned a lot,” said Seognam coach Shin Tae-Yong. “I guess I was a bit complacent. I am very sorry for the fans,” he added.

Moacir Pereira, who led Daegu successfully throughout the season but failed to get the Group A ticket seemed exhausted after the game. “The players put in so much effort. I thank them,” he said shortly. After their dream for the Group A was gone, Daegu players stayed on the ground, unable to stand.

Now the league is split into two, K-League gets a short break until September 15. From then until early December, 14 additional rounds will be played to identify the champion, AFC Champions League ticket winners, and the first teams to be relegated in the K-League history. The excitement is not over yet.

 

 

 

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