The #KleagueFM17 Challenges: Challenge Champs [April '16]
A month into the new season things could go either way for new E-Land boss Steve Waddell. After 3 matches he has 1 win, 1 loss and 1 draw. The injury list is getting ever longer however and with the transfer window closed his options are limited. Will he become an April fool?
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 March
That defeat at Gangwon has knocked the stuffing out of me a little bit. It’s pretty obvious that we simply aren’t the same side without Kim Jae-sung in the middle of the park and our striking options are not firing as hoped. One goal in three matches is poor form and I wonder if we might want to try a more cautious approach while we wait for our star players to return.
In the meantime it may be time for bread and circuses. The Swedish hotdog stand will deal with the first of those and, in the continuing absence of Kevin, it’ll be down to me again to provide the latter. Even Dalshabet aren’t going to be willing to put their name to us currently so it’s time to drop another tier in the entertainment bookings. Afterschool it is.
Meanwhile the FA Cup draws us against Busan Transport. That’s a potential banana skin I could do without at this stage. At least it’s a home game.
Before that though there's league games to be played. Next up is Gyeongnam. Their early season form has been poor and they’ve lost all three of their games so far. This encourages me not to park the bus completely and keep our three up front although I set the backline to a slightly more defensive one and slot Kim Dong-jin back in. Kim Heung-il will get his turn up front. I really need some goals here.
The man to watch for Gyeongnam is going to be Christian Danalache. He’ll be getting a few straighteners early door from Mitchell hopefully. I have no idea what to expect from this one so I just cross my fingers and tell the players to enjoy themselves. Go and have some fun.
Talking about fun, Afterschool have turned up. Hopefully that will inspire the lads slightly. Or at least distract the opposition keeper. I tell them to set up directly behind him.
It does the job. 6 minutes in Kim Heung-il fires in a rasper and their keeper is slow to notice it. 1-0!
On 27 minutes it’s another clanger from their keeper who seems more interested in Nana then our centre-forward. He comes out for a cross but he’s nowhere near it and Heung-il bags a second with a neat header.
I’m delighted at half-time and ask for more of the same. The girls agree but suggest I might want to talk to the team as well.
It takes only 4 minutes to add to our lead as Mitchell heads in a Joo Min-kyu corner. This is a perfect performance all round and Joo has a hat-trick of assists now. We see out the rest of the game and give some game time to a few of the guys on the bench. Gyeongnam never look like coming back and 3-0 it finishes. Happy with that. Let’s celebrate lads!
The next game can’t come quick enough but we have to wait a week for the trip to Daegu. As luck would have it Afterschool have a cosmetics promo the same day nearby so we invite them along for the ride after their performance in the last match. They’re our lucky mascots now.
Glory passes a fitness test but I don’t plan to change a winning team so he will be on the bench for this one. Seung-woo is getting close to being available as are Jae-sung and Tarabai. They might make the bench.
Unfortunately Kim Dong-chul is going to take his place on the treatment table. We’re having no luck at all with injuries. Not what we need going into an away game with the league leaders. Hopefully Afterschool will bring us some good fortune again.
As far as the game is concerned Daegu look to have a lot of firepower with three Brazilian plasterers up front. Hopefully we can knock them off their stride early on and take control of the game. If we play the same way we did against Gyeongnam then I’m confident, but we are up against tougher opposition here. If any more incentive was needed then we can go top of the league with a win in this one.
We don’t last a minute before Paulo Sergio puts them ahead. Sloppy play in the middle of the park gifts them the ball and before we know it it’s nestling in the back of our net. On 30 minutes, Daegu are gifted a penalty and go 2-0 up. This is looking bad.
At half-time I try to gee them up but I have the feeling the game is already beyond us. I consider throwing on some of the returnees but I’m not sure it’s worth the risk. I will give it another 10 minutes or so.
I eventually make the changes but it makes no difference. 2-0 it finishes. Back to the drawing board. At least we have a few players coming back for the next match against Bucheon.
I don’t see too much to worry about in the Bucheon side so I don’t risk too many of the guys who are carrying knocks. I put Jae-sung back into midfield as his presence has definitely been missed. Choi Dong-ho drops out for Ahn Seong-bin too. I really want the boys to put on a show today.
Sadly Afterschool have made a basic error and turned up in red and black outfits for this one. I consider making them do the whole thing in their pants but instead just send them home. We’re on our own here.
Pretty much nothing happens in the first half. Time for Seung-woo and Tarabai.
10 minutes later I throw Seo Beo-min on and it’s him that unlocks the door with a great jinking run down the right wing. He skins the full-back and rolls a low ball nicely into the six-yard box for Tarabai to bundle home. That’s more like it!
With the goal in the bag we can sit back a bit and look to hit them on the counter. It’s not pretty and I doubt the fans enjoy the rest of the game but we manage to keep the back door locked until the 90th minute. Another win under the belt.
We only have a few days to kill until the cup match but my scout again knows nothing about our upcoming opponents. He tells me he is off to scout the POSCO Atoms and then disappears. £400 a week for nothing. Luckily I have my own contacts and spend the day browsing through the BTC foreign supporter club Facebook page looking for inside info. They look fairly useless so I’ll take the chance to rest a few players and give some others a chance to impress and get their sharpness up.
The board expect a low crowd so I give Afterschool the night off to work on their dance moves.
I should be able to get away with a more attacking line-up and re-jig the formation to get more bodies into attack. I tell them to make sure they get plenty of shots away to test the opposition keeper. The prematch predictions seem to think there isn’t a lot between the two teams but I know better. I expect us to win comfortably.
Two minute in Ahn Tae-hyun slides a shot towards their goalie and he seems to dive right over it. 1-0 us. Unfortunately, after half an hour Ahn is already signalling that he is exhausted and wants to come off. What the hell is this, Dan?
In the second half their keeper lets himself down again and lets a low 30-yard shot from Seung-woo beat him. 2-0.
Despite not threatening at all, somehow BTC manage to pull one back but there’s only a couple of minutes left so it should be too late for them to do anything provided we keep things sensible. Their striker Cha Chul-ho looks quite useful and we’ll play the last few minutes with ten men after Cho Woo-jin comes off injured so it's not quite time to relax.
We still manage to see the game out though and we are through to the next round.
Gyeongnam have won their game also and we will face them in the next round, again at Jamsil. We receive £700 for winning the match which I pick up from a KFA official in a brown envelope and promise to give to the chairman. Next stop Gangnam. I wish I hadn’t given the Afterschool girls a night off now.
And that brings April to a close. Other than a slight hiccup at Daegu it’s been a pretty successful month. Six games in and we are sitting third in the table. Not bad overall. Certainly better than Gyeongnam who have yet to pick up a single point. Shocks so far are Chungju Hummel who are a point ahead of us in second. Bring on May.