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Korean Football Round-up 5th Dec.

After a one-week absence, Korean Football Round-up and The Weekend Preview are back. From some disappointing ACL exits to Son Heung-min's Europa League goal-scoring exploits and a handful of K League managerial changes, Paul Neat provides the latest news.

Out-of-luck Jeonbuk

K League 1 and FA Cup double winners Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors have bowed out of the AFC Champions League. Jose Morais' side lost 4-1 to J. League outfit Yokohama F. Marinos on Tuesday, a result which sealed the Green Warriors' fate. Jeonbuk needed wins in their last two group stage matches to be able to qualify but will now depart Qatar. Jeonbuk ended their continental campaign with a 2-0 win over Shanghai SIPG in what appears to be Jose Morais' his last match in charge.

Crouching Tigers' hidden talents 

Elsewhere in ACL, Ulsan Hyundai have win Group F and five wins from five in Qatar. The Horangi picked up back-to-back wins over Perth Glory last week then a 2-1 win over FC Tokyo on Monday night before a comprehensive 4-1 rout over Shanghai Shenhua. The Horangi now await Group E runners up in the Round of 16 but will be without Lee Dong-gyeong who has returned to Korea due to injury


The Weekend Preview

Seoul searching

For FC Seoul, the rebuild begins now. The capital club crashed out of the AFC Champions League on Thursday following a 2-1 defeat to Melbourne Victory. Needing just a point from their two remaining matches, Seoul trailed 2-0 at half time against the A-League side but managed to pull a goal back through defender Hwang Hyun-soo to ensure a nervy finish. Despite having 24 shots, 19 more than Victory, Seoul were unable to find the equaliser. The match is likely to have been the last in FC Seoul colours for loan duo Han Seung-gyu and Yun Young-sun who look set to return to their parent clubs Jeonbuk and Ulsan respectively. 

Bluewings win

Suwon Samsung Bluewings became the second K League side to reach this year's AFC Champions League knockout stages on Friday night. The Bluewings needed a win over Group G leaders Vissel Kobe and got their desired result thanks to goals form Kim Gun-hee and Lim Sang-hyub. Park Kun-ha's side face Yokohama F. Marinos in the Round of 16 on Monday night.

Fortunate Son 

With Son Heung-min on target again, Tottenham Hotspur have qualified for the last 32 of the Europa League. Spurs drew 3-3 with Austrian Bundesliga side LADK with Son scoring Spurs second of the night, turning the game on its head after Gareth Bale had restored parity two minutes into first half stoppage time. Eggestein equalised for LASK, though, but Dele Alli made it 3-2 from the spot only for Karamoko to find a 93rd minute equaliser. The North London side are second in Group J, two points behind Antwerp with one match left to play.

K League legend retires

K League legend Jung Jo-gook this week announced his retirement from professional football. The former Korean international played 392 matches in K League, scoring 121 goals and laying on 29 assists. Throughout his career, Jung won two K League titles, an FA Cup, and a League Cup with FC Seoul, was named as 2016 MVP whilst with Gwangju and was part of the Jeju United side which won K League this season. He plans on going into coaching after hanging up his boots. 

[READ: Jung Jung-gook K League Legends Interview

Bae-bye

Bae Ki-jong also announced this week that he is to retire. The 37-year-old decided to hang up his boots after a 14-year playing career during which he won one K League title in 2008 and one FA Cup in 2009 while with Suwon Bluewings. Bae began his career with Daejeon Citizen and also had spells with Jeju United and Ansan Police before joining Gyeongnam FC in 2016. Bae was part of the Gyeongnam side which won K League 2 in 2017.

Kings of the Castle Park

Joining Jeju United in K League 1 next year is Suwon FC. The 2020 K League 2 runners up won promotion last Sunday following a 1-1 draw in the playoff final against Gyeongnam FC. Needing just a draw, An Byong-jun stepped up in the 100th minute to convert Suwon's equaliser and seal a return to the top flight for the first time since 2016.

From Bento to Busan

Meanwhile, dropping out of K League 1, Busan IPark have appointed a new manager. Former assistant to Paulo Bento, Ricardo Peres has been tasked with guiding the South Coast side back to the big time. The 44-year-old was in charge of Portugal second tier team Casa Pia up until June this year after a spell with Olympiacos, serving as assistant manager to Paulo Bento and under 19s team head coach between August 2016 and October 2019.

Reds' redemption 

Looking to bounce back from another disappointing campaign, Bucheon have hired former FC Anyang manager Lee Young-min as new first team manager. Song Sun-ho's contract expires this year but after a disappointing season, the Reds moved for 46-year-old Lee Young-min who had left his role as Ulsan Hyundai's youth team director. Lee also was in the dugout at Anyang Civic Stadium between 2015 and 2016, initially as caretaker, before joining Ansan Greeners as a coach in 2017. 

Re-thinking Violets

FC Anyang are not the only K League 2 club to appoint a new manager this week. The Violets have given the job to Lee Woo-hyung who returns to the club for a second spell in charge. Lee was FC Anyang's first ever K League manager, guiding the team to fifth in the K League Challenge in 2013 before a spell with the now dissolved Shenyang Dongjin in China's third tier. Lee replaced Kim Hyung-yul who had two seasons at the helm for FC Anyang.

Park Jin-sub resigns from Gwangju

In K League 1, Park Jin-sub has stepped down as manager of Gwangju FC. Park lead the Yellows to the K League 2 title in 2019 and to sixth place in the top flight this year but on Tuesday handed in his resignation. Park is expected to join FC Seoul who have had no fewer than three caretaker managers this season.

New contract for Kim Ki-dong

One manager who is staying put is Pohang Steelers boss Kim Ki-dong, signing a new two-year contract. Kim's contract was due to expire at the end of the season and the former midfielder was even linked to a move to the Thai Premier League but has put pen to paper on a new deal. Kim has been in charge since 2019 and guided the Steelers to third and place and AFC Champions League qualification this season.

Thai-m to go for O'Neill

Departing the Steelyard, however, is midfielder Brandon O'Neill. The Australian has joined Thai giants Buriram United. O'Neill joined Pohang last winter, made 13 appearances after joining from Sydney FC but returned to Australia due to personal reasons in August. 

Front-running Frontale

Former Suwon Samsung Bluewings goalkeeper Jung Sung-ryong has won a third J1 League title with Kawasaki Frontale. A 5-0 win over Gamba Osaka last Wednesday sealed it with a record four games left to play. Jung featured in all 30 matches so far and has kept 12 cleansheets and conceded the fewest goals in J1 per 90 minutes with 0.77 per game on average.

In-beom's impact

After testing positive for COVID-19, Hwang In-beom made his return last Sunday, helping Rubin Kazan end a run of three consecutive defeats with a 1-0 victory over CSKA Moscow. Hwang was introduced from the bench in the 56th minute with the game at 0-0, along with Serbian striker Đorđe Despotović who bagged the game's only goal just two minutes later. Kazan now sit ninth but only five points behind the top four.

Default champions

Paju Citizen have won promotion to K3 but without needing to play the K4 Final. The final was due to be played at 2pm on 29th November at Jinju Civic Stadium against FC Pocheon but due to an outbreak of COVID-19, Paju have been awarded the win. Meanwhile, SMC Engineering have won K5. At the Hanbat Stadium in Daejeon, Gimcheon-based SMC Engineering on Sunday 29th November beat Gimhae Jaemics 1-0 in the final. The second leg of the K3 Final between Gyeongju KHNP and Gimhae FC will be played this Sunday.

RIP Papa Bouba Diop 

The scorer of the first goal in the 2002 World Cup, Papa Bouba Diop, has died aged 42. The Senegalese Football Federation (FSF) on Monday confirmed that the former Premier League player and Senegal World Cup star had passed away following a long illness. Diop made 63 appearances for his country and scored in Senegal's first ever World Cup match, bagging the winner against reigning champions France at Seoul World Cup Stadium in a 1-0 victory. He went on to score two more goals in the competition as Senegal reached the quarterfinals.

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