Chunma ahead nearing end of first half

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Chunma ahead nearing end of first half


After a remarkable ride, Seongnam Chunma, by far the best team so far in the K-League season with 25 points on eight wins, one loss and a draw, are just three more points away from clinching the league’s first-half title.
The Chunma, coming off a 1-0 victory over Chonbuk FC last Saturday, play their next game this Sunday against FC Seoul, but if the Pohang Steelers, the second-place team now at 17 points, don’t beat Daegu FC this Saturday, the Chunma will capture the first-half title regardless of the results of their remaining schedule.
That scenario would provide an anticlimactic ending to what has been a season-long display of excellent soccer.
As befits a first-place soccer team, the Chunma has proven to be adept at both the offensive and defensive ends of the game. The team is tied for second in the league in goals scored, and tied for third in the fewest goals allowed.
Former national team forward Woo Sung-yong leads the league with eight goals, the latest coming from a penalty kick at last Saturday’s victory. Kim Do-heon, who played at midfielder in the national team’s recent friendlies and has since emerged as a favorite of coach Dick Advocaat, was a key cog in the offensive machine for the Chunma. Defensive midfielder Jang Hack-young and defenders Kim Sang-shik and Kim Young-chul have all managed to translate their experience playing on Advocaat’s squad into strong seasons with their professional club.
Not all is rosy in the Chunma’s season, however, as the team is dealing with an injury to its top foreign player, the Brazilian striker Mota. Earlier this month, he suffered a torn ligament in his right ankle and a broken right fibula after a tackle by Gyeongnam FC’s midfielder Kim Seong-jae. He has left for his native country for treatment and rehabilitation.
He is out for the rest of the first half, but the team hopes to have him back in the second half, which begins in August, so that it doesn’t suffer the same ignominious fate that bedeviled Busan I’Park FC. The Busan team went 7-1-4 in the win-loss-draw column in last year’s first half, only to see its championship dreams evaporate with a 0-9-3 result in the second half.
The first-place team during that second half? It was the Chunma with 8-1-3.

by Yoo Jee-ho
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