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The #KleagueFM17 Challenges: Challenge Champs [May '16]

Steve Waddell has been given the near impossible task of filling Jamsil and taking E-Land to ACL glory. So far he's been just about holding his own in the Challenge but it's still early days and there's 1001 things that can go wrong in the coming weeks. Still at least he's made it this far into the season without getting sacked

If you haven't been following you might want to start off at Part One
Or if you missed the last episode you can read what happened in April

May starts in an all too familiar way with another report from the physio of problems. Lee Sang-ki has been a stalwart in goal in the absence of Glory but now he’s injured with blisters and out for the next game at least. Moon Dong-joo has apparently managed to strain his wrist ‘in training’ as well. That’ll teach me to invite Afterschool to the training ground. In any case, he can play with some protection but that’ll cost me £600. I’m taking it out of the dirty bugger’s wages.

On the positive injury front, Glory should be fit enough to play and next opponents Daejeon also have some injuries. The biggest loss for them is Jean-Claud Bozga who has been doing a great job marshalling their defence. I’m glad to see him out.

The number of injuries we have been getting seems to be something of a medical miracle and needs further investigation so I ask the board to appoint a sports scientist. Surprisingly, the chairman agrees without any complaint. I try the data analyst line again but he’s still having none of it. He does suggest we still need a chief scout and I’d love to appoint one but all the scouts available look terrible. I may just pick one at random. 

In fact, that’s exactly what I will do. Chief scout appointed. Now can I have my data analyst? The coffee isn’t going to make itself, you know.

It dawns on me that I have no idea how to actually choose a sports scientist so I appoint the first guy who shows up for interview on the grounds that he was the most keen. Send the rest home. This recruitment lark is easy.

For the match at Daejeon I decide to take the game to them so it will be an attacking line-up. Glory will be in from the start and I have my preferred midfield pairing of Jae-sung and Min-kyu in. The striker role is filled by Heung-il for this one with the plan to give Tarabai a run when the defence is tiring.

Ones to watch for Daejeon are Seo Dong-hyun up front and Kim Sun-min in midfield. Koh Rae-sae can be a tricky one on the wing as well. Their defence looks weak though and hopefully we can exploit it.

In the early stages we look very impressive. We are swarming all over Daejeon and giving them no time to settle. The boys are combining beautifully and we almost look like we have a couple of extra men. A bit more composure in the final third and we will win this one comfortably.

Amazingly though we go in at half-time still level. We haven’t been able to convert one of our chances and Heung-il has been a bit wasteful. He’ll get another 5 minutes before I bring on Tarabai.

On the hour mark it’s the little Brazilian that makes the difference. Latching on to a Jae-sung through ball and firing a low shot home past Lee Beom-soo.

On 87 minutes Kim Dong-jin sees red for a second yellow card offence. Daejeon will surely throw everything at us in the last few minutes now. We need to hold on to the win.

It takes a few late heroics from Glory, but that is exactly what we do. Yet another 1-0 victory for the boys in leopard print. Let’s get the hell out of Daejeon now.

Next up is Goyang in an oddly-scheduled Thursday night match. Confidence is high in the squad now and we really should win this one but we need to guard against complacency. I’m sure the guys have training under control though so I take a few days off. Before I head home, I try to check in with Kevin on the Sistar situation but his desk is empty.

My new chief scout earns himself a sharp rebuke on day 1 by recommending I sign a couple of FC Seoul players. I think he gets the message though and he won’t be doing that again. Another bloke turns up and informs me he is the new head of youth development. I don’t remember hiring him but the more the merrier. My new sports scientist turns up and, on reflection, he looks a bit mental. I’ll have to keep an eye on him. 

For the Goyang match I’m going for more or less the same plan as Daejeon. It seemed to be pretty effective. Kim Dong-jin will need to be replaced and I think Tarabai should be able to start this one. Other than that I think we will stick with the same line-up.

There’s no-one that looks particularly worrying in the Goyang side although they are sitting fifth in the table so they must have something about them. In any case their 4-1-4-1 suggests we’ve got them worried.

Two minutes in and we get a wake-up call when we fail to clear a corner and Goyang make it 1-0. We’re going to have to pull something special out of the bag now.

That does seem to spark us into life though and in 10 minutes it’s all level. A free kick is flicked on to Mitchell at the back post and he slots home a cool finish.

On the half hour mark we go ahead. A wicked cross from Lee Kyu-ro is met by the head of Tarabai and he nearly bursts the net with it. This is more like it! Seconds later it’s almost three with Tarabai again posing a threat. We’re really in control of this one now.

At half-time I warn the team about complacency. One or two don’t seem to like it but given how they started the match I think it’s deserved. We can’t throw this one away by being sloppy.

Sadly that’s exactly what we look to be doing. Lee Min-woo makes it 2-2 with a neat finish and our good work is being undone. Now we have it all to do again.

The game ends all square and I’m none too happy. Extra training for this lot tomorrow morning.

We need to pull ourselves together for the next match, which is the cup game against Gyeongnam. So far they’ve lost all seven league games that they have played and we bossed them in our last meeting but we want to avoid any slip ups. Focus is required.

Apparently there is a relatively bumper crowd of 3,000 expected for the game so we want to put on a decent show and get the win. No putting out a weakened team for me. Gyeongnam seem to have taken the same approach so this has all the makings of a good game.

Ten minutes in we take the lead. Moon Dong-joo waltzes through their defence and smashes home. He’s been watching too much Lionel Messi. I’m not complaining though.

We fail to build on our lead in the rest of the half and thirty minutes later the traitorous Yoo Byung-soo brings Gyeongnam level.

I start to get nervous deep into the second half but it’s that man Joo Min-kyu who saves the day with a loved dinked free-kick from just outside the box which nestles neatly in the net. Have that!

That’s enough to win the match but we’ve gotten away with a bit of a lacklustre show. It might be time to get Afterschool back in to fire some life back into them. Especially now I have an envelope with £2100 prize money in it from the KFA. Although with the next game up being against the police side maybe that’s not such a good idea.

We’re going to be without Min-kyu for this one as his yellow cards have totted up and earned him a one-game suspension. I’ll give Kim Dong-jin his place back at left-back and I’m still struggling with the left-wing slot. 10 games in Choi Dong-hun has been a big disappointment and it’s time to part company with him. Ahn Seong-bin hasn’t been much better but I paid money for him so he’ll stay for now. It might be time to give Choi Oh-baek a second look though.

On paper at least, the cops should be a decent side and even though they are sitting eighth this should still be a tough one. They’re missing a few players and others are carrying knocks but they still looks a reasonable side.

Their left-back looks to be struggling slightly from the off so straight away I tell the team to work the ball down the right flank. It works beautifully when somehow our left-back finds himself out wide on the right and cuts the ball back for Seo Beo-min to slide it home for his first of the season.

Choi Oh-baek’s comeback doesn’t last long as I have to sub him off injured after half an hour.
Just after half-time Seo Beo-min fires in another good cross and this time Tarabai is taken out of the play and we win a penalty. Tarabai gets up, dusts himself off, places the ball on the spot and…. 2-0! That’s how it’s done!

Yet again we finish with ten men after Seo Beo-min gets injured late in the match. Another expensive victory here in terms of knocks. But a victory nonetheless. We’ve been pretty clinical here with our finishing  so the 2-0 scoreline probably flatters us slightly.

Before our next game against Chungju there is the chance for a night out at a champagne reception at the KFA office for the FA Cup fifth round draw. It’s a good night and I swear I see Kevin hanging out with some K-Pop starlets at some point but a KFA suit comes over to say hello and before I can get rid of him they’ve disappeared. The draw pairs us with Daegu away. Not an easy one but we’re buzzing right now so I fancy our chances. My head was certainly buzzing the next day anyway. Overdid the cheap champagne I think.

For Chungju its more of the same really although I’ve lost both my wingers so they need to be replaced. Minkyu is back though and straight into the side.

Ahn Seong-bin must have heard me slagging him off. 9 minutes in he gets the ball and fires an absolute bullet low past the Chungju keeper. 1-0. That’s what we paid money for!

The rest of the game is downright dreadful and I consider heading off for a beer around the hour mark. I stick it out to the end though but even though we take three points I feel the need to do something drastic at the end of it. 

Channelling my inner Trump, it’s bad news for back-up striker Kim Heung-il who has done nothing so far apart from one match. Sorry Kim, you’re fired!

Meanwhile that win has put us top of the league! OK Daegu might have a game in hand on us but we’re top of the league tonight! Time to celebrate! Anyone have Hyun-a’s number?

Our last game of the month is yet another home tie, this time against Busan. They’ve done alright since we beat them on their own patch on opening day. They’re just 3 points behind us in fourth place so we can’t take anything for granted. We’ll need another good performance here to take the win. I’ll give the same eleven the chance to go again in this one since we’re on a roll right now and for once I have no enforced changes.

Busan go with one up front in the shape of Willian Popp but Milos will be out wide on the right. Ko Kyung-min only makes the bench and I’m not going to complain about that. If we can keep Popp quiet here then we’ve a good chance. Hopefully someone will put him into the stand early on.

5 minutes in it’s clear Busan have decided to park the bus. They have 9 men back behind the ball and nobody within 50 yards of Popp up front. Poor show I’Park.

At half-time we have 21 shots to Busan’s solitary effort but we’re lacking accuracy with only 6 efforts on target. I’m not sure whether to change anything so I give it another few minutes to see how the second half develops.

After an hour I stick on another forward and go with a narrow 3 upfront. If nothing else maybe we can entice a few loose challenges and win a pen.

That change seems to work and finally Tarabai gets in behind the deep Busan line and slots home. Busan’s gameplan is undone.

More injury problems though. Tarabai is nursing a gashed head while Glory has sprained his wrist and has to come off. I decide to sub both of them but since I don’t have another forward on the bench I stick big Mitch up front.

Cho woo-jin makes it 2-0 after seventy minutes and things looks wrapped up.

At the end of the ninety minutes the shot count is 32-6 in our favour. I can’t remember a more one-sided match in a long time. That was really disappointing stuff from Busan and I feel sorry for the handful of fans that have come up to watch that.

As the Busan team head up the tunnel I grab a quick word with Milos and ask him if he wouldn’t fancy finding himself a job with a team that actually attack. Maybe one with natty leopard skin shirts? He says nothing but I can tell he’s interested.

What a month May has been. We’re finally hitting our stride and we’ve blasted our way to the top of the league. 5 wins and a draw in 6 matches is not bad at all. 4 clean sheets and 10 goals scored is even more positive news. If Sistar are watching then surely they’ll be on the phone to Kevin any day now?

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