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K League 2 Playoffs: Bucheon FC 1995 and Gyeongnam FC seek winning change

The two 2022 K League 2 playoff semifinalists Bucheon FC 1995 and Gyeongnam FC head into Wednesday's clash seeking a first-ever post-season win. Bucheon have had two previous failed playoff attempts while Gyeongnam have been relegated via the playoffs on two occasions and came up short in 2020. Both, then, will be seeking a winning change on Wednesday night.

If the two playoff semifinalists Bucheon FC 1995 or Gyeongnam FC are going to win promotion this year then they're going to have to do something they haven't been able to do before - win a playoff match. 

After a dramatic final day, Gyeongnam earned their place in the playoffs thanks to a 1-0 win over FC Anyang while Bucheon's late, late 2-2 draw at home to Jeonnam Dragons at least ended a run of three-straight defeats having already secured a playoff berth a few weeks ago.

This sets up Wednesday's semifinal and, as the home team only needs a draw to advance, Bucheon may yet advance still having never recorded a playoff win. However, if Gyeongnam are to then they will simply have to win, the role reversed from their last attempt two years ago.

Bucheon FC 1995 have reached the K League 2 playoffs on two previous occasions but have never won a single playoff match. Gyeongnam haven't either for that matter as the only time Roses made it through to the promotion final, they did so via a 1-1 draw at home to Daejeon Hana Citizen. 

What happened before?

Bucheon FC 1995

2016 - Stoppage time heartbreak

In 2016, when the second tier was still called the 'K League Challenge,' Bucheon finished third, one point clear of Gangwon FC and three ahead of Busan IPark in the playoff places. That season, the police team Ansan Mugunghwa won the title but were denied promotion due to the club's plans to relocate to Asan. This meant K League Challenge runners-up Daegu FC won automatic promotion and the teams from third through fifth competed in the playoffs. 

On Saturday 5th November Bucheon welcomed Gangwon FC to Bucheon Stadium. The Reds didn't get off to the best of starts, succumbing to a 17th-minute Jung Seung-yong goal but eventually got themselves back on level footing via a 50th-minute Han Hee-hoon goal - despite being a man down following Waguininho's red card three minutes after the restart. 

Han Hee-hoon's goal looked to be enough to send Bucheon through but in the dying embers, Brazilian forward Maranhão bagged a 93rd-minute winner to send the Gangwon through. Centre back Kim Young-nam, currently of Gyeongnam, played in that match for Bucheon.

2019 - Victims of the home advantage rule 

Bucheon's most recent playoff campaign was three seasons ago when they took the last playoff spot after finishing fourth behind champions Gwangju, Busan IPark in second, and FC Anyang in third. This meant Bucheon had to make the short trip across Gyeonggi Province to Anyang to earn a place in the next round. 

Needing to win, Bucheon could only muster a draw and even had to come from behind to earn that. Manuel Palacious put Anyang ahead after 11 minutes before Ahn Tae-hyun levelled on 78. Anyang went through but were defeated by Busan. Choi Cheol-won, Nilson, Gam Han-sol, Guk Tae-jeong, Lee Si-heon, and Song Hong-min were all involved in that match against Anyang.


Gyeongnam FC

2014 - The Roses wilt in the relegation playoffs

Gyeongnam's first relegation from the top tier came in 2014 and via the playoffs. The Roses finished 11th that year, two points ahead of Sangju Sangmu who suffered automatic relegation, but four behind Incheon United and safety. The outcome was a two-leg playoff with Gwangju FC. 

The first leg ended with a 3-1 loss for Gyeongnam, Miloš Stojanović managed to restore parity on 32 minutes after Cho Yong-tae had given Gwangju the lead, but Diego in the 48th minute and a Sreten Sretenović own goal five minutes from time meant Gyeongnam had a mountain to climb heading into the home leg.

At Changwon Football Center on 6th December that year, Song Soo-young put Gyeongnam 1-0 up on 70 minutes to give Branko Babić and his side some hope with the score at 3-2. But, just five minutes later, Kim Ho-nam scored for Gwangju to make it 1-1 and 4-2 on aggregate. Kim Ho-nam could well be lining up for Bucheon this Wednesday night. 

2019 - Cry me a Nakdong River Derby defeat

Gyeongnam won K League 2 in 2017 to earn promotion and even finished second in K League 1 in 2018 but after failing to balance AFC Champions League football with the bread and butter of the league the following year, they were left to fight it out in the playoffs to preserve their top-flight status. They took on their Nakdong River Derby rivals Busan IPark over two legs in early December that year. The first leg, held at Busan's Gudeok Stadium, ended in a 0-0 draw leaving the tie on a knife-edge heading into the second leg. 

At Changwon Football Center three days later, the tie seemed to be heading towards extra time and penalties. However, in the 78th minute, Busan were awarded a penalty after Diego's cutback struck the arm of a sliding-in Lee Jae-myung. Up stepped Rômulo to send the 'keeper the wrong way and find the bottom corner. Busan added a second in stoppage time via Soma Novothny. Gyeongnam were relegated and have been in K League 2 ever since. 

Skip to 10:10 for the penalty...

2020 - Last-minute penalty drama

Experiencing it from the other side, Gyeongnam tried to earn a spot back in the top flight via the playoffs in 2020. That year, Seol Ki-hyeon's side finished third in K League 2, level on points with Daejeon Hana Citizen but a superior goals-scored tally earned the Roses home advantage in the semis. Daejeon took the lead in this one, Edinho in the 61st minute, but Ko Kyung-min levelled just eight minutes later with a goal that proved to be enough to advance. Gyeongnam were helped by a disallowed Bruno Baio goal, owing to a foul in the build-up by Lee Jung-moon and went on to reach the final.

The final was against Suwon FC who had finished second and, at one point, ran champions Jeju United close in the title race. It all seemed to be going to plan, too, when Choi Jun put Gyeongnam 1-0 up on 27 minutes, and still deep into injury time with Gyeongnam even going close to adding a second. 

However, in the 98th minute, Suwon FC were awarded a penalty. The referee went back to look at an incident from a couple of minutes earlier and it was decided that Suwon's Jeong Sun-ho was fouled by Kim Hyeong-won. With Suwon only needing a draw and with mere seconds remaining, An Byong-jun fired in the spot kick to send his team into the top division. Gyeongnam were left picking up the pieces. Mo Jae-hyun now of Gyeongnam was in the Suwon FC starting lineup that afternoon. Kim Hyeong-won only played once more for the club and has since left.

Skip to 5:58 for the VAR and penalty...


The two sides meet this Wednesday in the playoff semis with the winner going onto face FC Anyang away on Saturday. Read the full preview on KLeague.com.

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