K League's bottom feeders set for crucial showdown
Published : May 13, 2022 - 10:52
Updated : May 13, 2022 - 10:54
In this file photo from last Thursday, Suwon Samsung Bluewings' players react to their 1-0 victory over Ulsan Hyundai FC in the clubs' K League 1 match at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, 45 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

The two worst clubs in South Korean football this year will collide for their second meeting of the season this weekend, as they both desperately seek to move out of the relegation zone.

Suwon Samsung Bluewings will host Seongnam FC at 7 p.m. Saturday at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, 45 kilometers south of Seoul. Seongnam are bringing up the rear in the K League 1 this year, stuck in 12th place with five points through 11 matches. They also have the league's worst goal differential with -15, having scored eight but conceded 23.

The last-place club in the K League 1 will be automatically relegated to the K League 2 the following season.

Suwon are five points ahead of Seongnam in 11th place. Their early season stumble led to a coaching change last month, with former Suwon player and coach Lee Byung-geun taking it over from Park Kun-ha.

The second worst team in the K League 1 at the end of the season will face the No. 2-ranked team from the K League 2 in a promotion-relegation playoff match.

Lee won his first match on Suwon's bench on May 5 but then suffered a 3-0 loss to his former club, Daegu FC, three days later.

Seongnam and Suwon played to a 2-2 draw in their first meeting of the season on March 5.

Suwon are tied in points with Gangwon FC, which remain in 10th place thanks to their tiebreak edge in goals scored, 11-8. And Gangwon's quest to stay out of the bottom won't get easier Sunday, when they take on the surging five-time defending champions, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.

Jeonbuk beat Gangwon 2-1 in their earlier meeting on April 2. Jeonbuk have bounced back from a three-game losing skid with a six-match undefeated run.

Jeonbuk are part of a jampacked middle class in the league tables, sitting in fifth place with 18 points. Three clubs directly above them, Pohang Steelers, Jeju United and Incheon United, have 19 points apiece.

And the tables could look vastly different by the end of this matchweek.

Incheon have the unenviable task of going up against the league-leading Ulsan Hyundai FC on Saturday. Incheon have beaten Ulsan only once in their past 10 matches.

Jeju will visit Suwon FC on Sunday. Suwon FC's first-year midfielder Lee Seung-woo, back in his native land after a winding and mostly unsuccessful career in Europe, has caught fire after a slow start. After going scoreless in his first five matches, the former FC Barcelona youth player has netted four goals in his past six.

Pohang will be in the nation's capital Sunday to play FC Seoul. Both clubs are working on a five-match undefeated streak, with two wins and three draws apiece.

They have been very evenly matched in recent seasons, as Pohang hold a slight edge with four wins, three draws and three losses.

Daegu FC pulled themselves out of the relegation zone last week by blanking Suwon Samsung Bluewings and will look to keep moving up the ladder Saturday on the road against Gimcheon Sangmu FC.

Daegu's defenders will have their hands full against Gimcheon's striker Cho Gue-sung, who is tied for the league lead with Incheon's Stefan Mugosa with eight goals.

Gimcheon have not yet lost at home this year, with three wins and two draws. (Yonhap)