Friday, July 15, 2005

K League First Stage Review - Part One

K League First Stage Review - Part One
K League First Stage Review - Part One
The first stage of the K League is complete so it’s time for Soccerphile’s usual team-by-team summary.

7 Bucheon SK

After spending the last two years at the bottom of the K-League a seventh place finish and mid-table mediocrity is a splendid achievement for the Bucheon boys.

Hiddink’s former assistant Jong Hae-seong has done a sterling job in the million-strong city since taking over last season.

He has started with the defence and it was no surprise that the star of that unit, the young Kim Han-yoon earned a call-up to the national team. As a result there haven’t been many goals for the fans to enjoy, ten scored and ten conceded, but compared to what they have seen in the past, it’s a good start.

8 Daejeon Citizen

The loyal fans of Daejeon will also be happy with the first stage if the season as the team only lost twice –the same number of defeats as second-placed Incheon. That statistic would be more impressive if they hadn’t drawn eight games. Still, the Citizen have become a hard to beat outfit with Brazilian striker Leandro proving to be a tricky customer.

Without more investment, something that is unlikely to happen for the publicly owned team, there isn’t much chance of Daejeon challenging the top clubs.

9 Suwon Samsung Bluewings

The first stage was an unmitigated disaster for the champions and only a couple of late wins moved them up to their highest place of the season but their lowest finish in history.

This was supposed to be the season that Suwon demonstrated their dominance over the rest of the K-League with a series of high-profile and big money transfers.

To be fair, the team has suffered much through injuries –to Kim Nam-il, Nadson, Song Chong-guk, Park Keon-ha to name just a few – and a number of international call-ups.

Still, there should have been enough strength in depth for a top half finish but as it stands now, the only way that Suwon can successfully defend the title is by winning the second stage outright.

10 Chunnam Dragons

It all started so well back in the middle of May with an emphatic 4-1 opening day victory over Daegu. New signing Adrian Neaga scored a hat-trick and looked to be a class act. Unfortunately on the south-west coast, the Romanian picked up an injury and is believed to be on the verge of joining newly-promoted Premier League club, Wigan Athletic.

With the loss of influential international midfielder Kim Nam-il to Suwon and last season’s top scorer Mota to Sporting Lisbon, the Dragons were never likely to win a first title but a tenth palace finish is hugely disappointing.

11 Chonbuk Hyundai Motors

If Chunnam’s stage was disappointing, then fellow Jeolla Province team Chonbuk’s season was a total disaster as most of it was spent in bottom place.

It was only last November that the Motors were moments away from appearing in the AFC Champions League final and the 2003 FA Cup winners were one of the favourites to appear in the end of season play-offs but 2005 saw the Jeonju outfit start badly and then fall away.

The poor form cost coach Jo Yoon-hwan his job and he was replaced by former national team coaching staff member Choi Kang-hee. In his two games in charge Choi inspired his team to a mini-revival as four points were collected but there will be an awful lot more to do in the second half of the year.


12 Daegu FC

It is a measure of how far Daegu has come since its inception in 2003 that the fans are disappointed at such a lowly finish. Hopes were high in the south-east that the club could establish itself as a mid-level K-League member.

The loss of strikers Nonato and Feijiao were offset somewhat by the capture of the impressive Sandro Hiroshi. The Japanese-Brazilian found the net six times but with the defence conceding 25 goals in the 12 games, his efforts weren’t enough to prevent Daegu from losing two-thirds of their games.

13 Gwangju Sangmu

The league’s military outfit tasted victory only the once but what a victory it was –a 5-3 win in FC Seoul’s home stadium in which Korea’s golden boy Park Chu-young scored a hat-trick but still ended up on the losing side.

After those heights that were hit in the second game, it was downhill for Gwangju all the way to the bottom of the league and a last day defeat at Daegu was the icing on the cake.

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