With the opening weekend of the K-League in the books, now is the perfect time to start thinking about what it might spell for the rest of the season. And with some unexpected – if not somewhat shocking – results playing out on this opening weekend, the coming weeks and months look set to be incredibly exciting for fans of the League.
Following a fourth-place season finish just a season ago in which they barely missed out on securing a playoff spot in the Asian Champions League, Jeju United has suffered a fairly disastrous start to their 2022 campaign.
Their opening game for the 2022 season against the Phang Steelers ended in a 3-0 defeat. This match-up saw a 20th-minute penalty by Lim Sang-Hyub, and a score by Heo Yong-Joon sealed the fate of Jeju United, who will now look to refresh and regroup themselves in advance of their clash with Gangwon this weekend.
Jeju United’s fate could have played out very differently if Choo Sang-Hoon had managed to convert an early opportunity the team was graced with in the second minute of the game. However, despite managing to control a long ball that flew into the box, the goal-keeping skills of Yoon Pyung-Guk proved too much.
Adding to this was an unnecessary penalty conceded by Jung-Woon, which helped to cement Pohang’s lead over a beleaguered Jeju United.
Choi Young-Jun started in the middle of the back three in a defensive position due to a number of the team’s defenders suffering injuries, which undoubtedly helped to sway the balance out of Jeju’s favor.
Nam Ki-il was visibly disappointed by this result. In a self-reflective mood following the match, he expressed the team’s desire to improve on this performance and to work on certain aspects of their game in the run-up to their next matches. And while the majority of the starting 11 was retained from last season, there are already indications that new additions will be needed to revitalize the team.
Jeju United’s chances were also hampered by an injury suffered by the newly signed goalkeeper Kim Dong-Jun, which increased the pressure on the team.
Just as it looked like the game between Incheon United and Suwon Samsung Bluewings would end in a stalemate, Incheon’s Stefan Mugoša pulled out a last-minute goal in the dying moments of the game.
Bluewing’s fate seemed sealed when they were reduced to 10 men after Kim Gun-Hee was sent off in the first 15 minutes. However, they managed to just about keep their head above water despite Incheon dominating the majority of the match in terms of possession.
The fact that Incheon retained possession for 72% of the game makes it all the more surprising that they had to rely on a last-minute goal in stoppage time to secure a victory.
Nevertheless, Incheon clearly proved themselves worthy of the three points, which puts them on a good footing for the rest of the season. More importantly, Incheon always looked dangerous when they were pushing forward – despite not being reflected in the score-line.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend came from Gimpo FC, who secured a shock victory against Gwangju FC.
Goals were supplied by Son Seok-Yong and Kim Jong-Seok, which helped Gimpo to secure a three-point start to the season. While Gwangju FC looked in decent form, it ultimately wasn’t enough to stave off the attacks by Gimpo.
Despite getting off to a somewhat sluggish start, Gimpo eventually picked up momentum and found their footing as the match drew on Lust after the 30-minute mark, Gimpo secured their first goal.
Although they picked up 1 momentum towards the end of the first half, this seemed to have all but dissipated in the first 15 minutes of the second half. And despite easily maintaining possession, Gwangju never seemed to do much with it.
This lack of urgency would ultimately cost them the game, however, when Gimpo secured their second goal with 20 minutes left in the match.
Overall, this was a surprising performance for Gimpo in many respects. But perhaps most significantly, it seems as if some of the issues Gimpo struggled with last season might have been ironed out. In particular, they seem much stronger up front, with a more fluid and dynamic style of play when compared to last season.