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Korean Football Round-up 13th Oct.

Fans to return to K League stadiums, Team Bento overcomes Team Hak-bum, two hat-tricks seals the September Player of the Month Award for Stefan Mugoša, and two Korean internationals lift silverware in the Middle East. Korean Football Round-up by Paul Neat.

The Fans' Game

After almost two months with games being played behind closed doors, the final three matches of K League 1 and final four of K League 2, plus the playoffs, will be played with supporters in attendance. The news comes following the South Korean government announcing on Sunday 11th October that the social distancing scheme was to be downgraded to Level One from Level Two. 

The same virus prevention measures that were in place previously will be adhered to such as no shouting, no alcoholic beverages, no food and a distance of around two metres being kept. In terms of attendances, 25% of stadium capacity is allowed, the same level as August.

Fans returning and with the income they bring will be most welcome to K League clubs. According to government data, the culture, sports and tourism industries suffered losses of US$9.2 billion in the first nine months of the year. The baseball sector saw the biggest loss of around $92 million dollars, football $51 million dollars. 


The Weekend Preview (Oct. 16)


Team Bento vs Team Hak-bum

While fans are to return to K League matches this weekend, the first game of football to have fans in attendance came on Monday night in the second of the two Team Bento vs Team Hak-bum friendlies. After a 2-2 draw in the first leg with the senior team grabbing a late equaliser, Team Bento ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in the second leg in front a reported 2,075 fans. 

First leg highlights: here
Second leg highlights: here

Hangeul Day

The first leg was played on Hangeul Day, a national holiday in South Korea that commemorates the Korean writing system 'Hangeul'. Normally, players would wear shirts with their names written in English as per FIFA regulations but on Friday 10th October, names were printed in Korean.


Football friendlies

For what will be the Korean National Team's first official game in 332 days, the Taegeuk Warriors are set to travel to Austria in November for two friendly matches. One of those matches will be played against Mexico on November 14th according to a statement released by the Mexican Football Association, and another is believed to be from a country from the Middle East according to Yonhap


Stefan 'Mugoalša' wins award



The K League Player of the Month Award for September has gone to Incheon United's Stefan Mugoša. The Montenegrin international scored two hat-tricks and laid on one assist throughout the month as Incheon bravely attempt to pull off the greatest of great escapes. United take on Gangwon FC away from home this Friday in K League 1 Round 25, the first match to have fans back in the stadiums.

It's going to be 'Doha' in Qatar

After months of uncertainty, K League's ACL contingent finally learned of where the 2020 AFC Champions League Group Stages are going to be played. Doha in Qatar has been selected as a neutral venue and matches will begin on November 18th, details of which are available on the-AFC.com. The tournament got underway in February but was curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic in early March. 

K League two-horse race, playoff standoff



Meanwhile, in K League 2 the race for the title is as close as it has ever been with Jeju United and Suwon FC locked on the same number of points with four matches remaining. Suwon sit atop of the table having scored two more than Jeju after picking up a hugely important 1-0 away win over Daejeon Hana Citizen. Meanwhile, Jeju United struck a 98th minute equaliser on Sunday to salvage a late point at home to Ansan Greeners.

Elsewhere, Seoul E-Land moved up to third after a resounding 3-0 win over Bucheon FC 1995 while wins for Gyeongnam in fourth and Jeonnam Dragons in sixth keeps the sprint for a place in the playoffs as tight as can be with just a point between third and sixth.

Stars of Qatar

Korean international midfielders Nam Tae-hee and Jung Woo-young on Saturday lifted the Qatar Stars League Cup following Al-Sadd's 4-0 win over Al-Arabi. Nam scored in the 53rd minute to give Al-Sadd a 2-0 lead after Yusuf Abdurisag had given Al Zaeem, or 'the Boss', a 17th minute lead. Former Arsenal midfielder Santi Carzola made it three on 77 minutes before Rodrigo Barbosa Tabata added a fourth in time added on. For Nam, it is his second piece of silverware for Al-Sadd having won the Sheikh Jassim Cup in 2019, for Jung a third.

K League Internationals

FC Seoul's Ikromjon Alibaev and Gwangju FC's Rustamjon Ashurmatov were on international duty for Uzbekistan recently. On 8th October both were involved in Uzbekistan's 2-1 loss to Iran, Ashurmatov started while Alibaev came on as a sub on 57 minutes. Then, on October 12th, the White Wolves overcame the UAE in a 2-1 win but both were unused subs for Jorge Luis Pinto's side.

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