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Korean Football Round-up 5th Oct

Daegu FC seal AFC Champions League football for 2021, Son Heung-min returns from injury to score two and assist one for Tottenham Hotspur, while Bordeaux wear shirts with player names written in Korean. Korean Football Round-up by Paul Neat.

Dae-dream believers

Daegu FC are back in the AFC Champions League. The Sky Blues sealed their return to continental competition following a 1-0 win over Gwangju FC on Saturday. Ryu Jae-moon bustled his way through to bag the game's only goal in the 70th minute to seal a huge three points for the North Gyeongsang side. Lee Byung-geun's side now have a 10-point cushion with three games left to play and so are guaranteed to finish fifth. Just three points separates Daegu with Sangju in fourth and so a place in the top four, what would be a best-ever finish, awaits should they beat Sangju in the first game back after the international break.

Gang-won for sorrow, two for joy

Gangwon FC came from behind to beat the Magpies Seongnam FC 2-1 on Sunday to all-but seal survival for Kim Byung-soo's side. Despite being reduced to 10 men for the second game running, Seongnam took the lead through Na Sang-ho 10 minutes into the second period. However, goals from Kim Young-bin and former Magpie Lim Chae-min turned the game on its head and condemned Kim Nam-il's side to their fifth defeat on the spin. Gangwon now have an nine-point lead over the drop zone with three games left but have scored 10 goals more than basement side Incheon United. A point against the Durumi would mathematically seal survival. 

ACL lifeline

FC Seoul and Suwon Bluewings sit in the bottom half of the table in 'Final B' meaning that neither side can qualify for the AFC Champions League through league positioning this season. However, from 2021, the defending ACL champions will be given a place in the qualification playoffs should they not qualify through league positioning or by winning a domestic trophy. This means that both Seoul and Suwon have a glimmer of hope of securing Asian football for next year. The West side of the competition has already been concluded with Iranian side Persepolis securing their place in the final.

Leopards claw their way into top four

In K League 2, Seoul E-Land clawed their way into the top four following the 1-0 win over fellow promotion hopefuls Gyeongnam FC. At Jamsil on Saturday, the Leopards struck late to claim all three points with on-loan Daegu wingback Ko Jae-hyeon grabbing the game's only goal with just four minutes remaining. The result means that just three points separate Daejeon in third from Gyeongnam and Jeonnam in fifth and sixth respectively. Seoul are now on nine wins for the season, four more than from the whole of 2019 and two points behind Daejeon in third.

Goal Masa-ine

Perhaps one of the unsung heroes of Suwon FC's promotion push is Japanese forward Ishida Masatoshi. The former Ansan Greeners man joined Suwon over the winter and has gone on to score 10 in 21 appearances, including a brace against former employers over the weekend. In an interview with Sportal Korea, Masa remains humble and attributes his success this year to more chances to play: 

"It's because I got more chances to play than last year. There have been so many decisive opportunities, and I made frequent mistakes. Considering the amount of opportunities, I should have scored about 20 goals."

Masa also revealed that he understands Korean and doesn't usually need any instructions translated: "I understand Korean to a certain extent unless it's a difficult word. But speaking is a bit too much just yet".

Eulji Lewis

Return of the prodigal Son

Despite being forced off with a hamstring problem last weekend, Son Heung-min was back in the Spurs side on Sunday and back amongst the goals. Son bagged two and assisted one in Tottenham's incredible 6-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford after a frantic first half in Manchester. 

Son missed Spurs' League Cup win over Chelsea on September 30th as well as the Europa League qualifier against Maccabi Haifa on October 2nd but returned for the trip to Old Trafford. Son was named in the startling lineup and bagged his fifth and sixth Premier League goals of the season, seventh overall.

Hangeul journée

This Friday is Hangeul Day which celebrates the Korean writing system. However, on Saturday, Ligue 1 side Bordeaux wore shirts with their players' names written in Korean, or 'Hangeul'. Hwang Ui-jo was named as a sub but came on in the second half during Bordeaux's 3-0 win over Dijon, their second of the season. A documentary about Hwang's career thus far was released on YouTube.

Charitable contribution

Korean international midfielder Hwang In-beom has donated 50 million Korean Won (around $43,000) to the city of Daejeon to help those affected by COVID-19. Hwang left Daejeon Citizen in 2018 for MLS before departing for the Russian Premier League and Rubin Kazan earlier this year.


Korean internationals Jeong Woo-young and Kwon Chang-hoon were on the losing side when Freiburg succumbed to Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, but after coming off the bench were able to play in front of a record post-COVID-19 crowd. At Signal-Iduna Park, a crowd of 9,000 were in attendance to witness Bundesliga giants Dortmund run out 4-0 winners. Jeong and Kwon were introduced off the bench in the 55th minute. 

For my latest trick

Former Suwon Bluewings striker Chong Te-se, 35, scored three goals in the space of just 18 minutes on Sunday for J2 side Albirex Niigata. The North Korean was introduced with 64 minutes on the clock with the score at 1-0 in Niigata's J2 round 24 fixture with Machida Zelvia before bagging his first hat-trick in seven years - a 4-1 Suwon Bluewings win over Daejeon Hana Citizen in April 2013.

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