This week saw the return of Mark to co-host the podcast as the guys turned their attention to the FA Cup and the Challenge which plays it’s final round of matches before the playoffs this weekend. One of the main topics for discussion was more VAR drama as the Video Referee continues to kill the K-League star. This week there were penalties given and taken away and goals chopped off all for what, to the naked eye, seemed ridiculous decisions. The Supermatch ended 2-2 due to a dubious VAR penalty and then Suwon crashed out of the FA Cup with VAR playing yet another heavy role in the proceedings. It’s fairly safe to say that VAR hasn’t been the roaring success many thought, and hoped, it would be and it’s definitely something that needs fine tuning for next year. Interestingly in my old days working in IT VAR stood for Value Added Re-seller, one would imagine you could travel the length and breadth of Korea without finding anyone who sees some added value of this system!!
Also on this week’s show the boys review the recent matches in both the Classic and Challenge, relive a VAR-esque moment involving Dejan and a big screen, reveal their losers and winners of the week, look ahead to the weekend’s clashes and more……
This weekend sees the final round of the K-League Challenge and there are still two playoff spots up for grabs as Asan, Seongnam and Bucheon all fight for the right to face-off to see who will play Busan and ultimately the lowest placed Classic club to join Gyeongnam at the top table of the K-League Classic. Gyeongnam and Busan have been running away with things at the top of the table for what seems like the full year while everyone else (well maybe not Daejeon) have been making up the numbers in the race for best of the rest. After some surprising results on Saturday past it was left to Seongnam only needing a win to clinch one of the spots, alas they failed to show up yet again which sets up the 3 team battle in the final week. With the table looking like this……
Below is a preview of the teams involved and predictions for their final positions.
Asan Mugunghwa FC
The Police team have, for the most part, performed better this season than their flailing Army counterparts in the Classic. They recently saw a four game winning streak come to an end as they lost at home to Champions Gyeongnam after being 2-1 up with only 30 mins to play. They of course won the league last year under the guise of Ansan Mugunghwa but were prohibited from promotion due to some ‘office politics’ involving Ansan wanting their own team. This year they have flirted between 3rd and 5th pretty much since the season began and would surely consider it a failure if they were to fall out of the playoffs now. Their final game is away to 2nd placed Busan who are in FA Cup semi-final action this midweek against Suwon Bluewings, defeat there might just knock their confidence a little. Busan have won two and drawn three against the Police this year, can they go undefeated?
Prediction : 3rd (should probably have enough to come back from Busan with a point)
The team in the Challenge that most expected to bounce straight back up have been beyond poor this season, they started with a goal drought which lasted for what must have felt like an eternity to their fans during which time fan favoutite and focal point Hwang Uijo was transferred to Gamba Osaka. They then dumbfounded most by going on a run of fourteen games unbeaten including eight victories which clawed them into playoff contention. In recent weeks though they’ve looked devoid of both imagination and confidence and look like a team in a downward spiral, not too dis-similar to this time last year. They’ll need to find huge performances from somewhere if they are to claim the ultimate prize of playoff glory. Seongnam have arguably the hardest match of the three as they travel to champions Gyeongnam who don’t appear to be letting up. Seongnam have failed to win against Gyeongnam this season but did draw 1-1 in Changwon earlier in the year.
Prediction: 5th (a draw might not be enough)
The final team vying for the playoffs is Bucheon FC who will be hoping to go one step further than last year when they lost in the playoff semi-final to Gangwon FC. This year they have been in and around playoff contention for the best part of the season, sitting between 3rd and 4th. They have a relatively strong squad and probably play some of the most attractive free-flowing football in the league although this does tend to leave them exposed at the back at times. In Waguininho they have one of the top goalscorers in the league and, along with Kim Shin, is definitely the one to watch. They travel to E-Land having lost heavily there back in August, E-Land have only their pride to play for but as we seen with Daejeon last weekend that can often be enough to squeeze a performance out.
Prediction : 4th (they have the easiest task of the three teams and should have enough to get the result)