Suwon a goal down after 1st league title matchSeongnam Ilhwa Chunma drew first blood against the Suwon Samsung Bluewings in the opening match of the K-League final on Sunday, winning 1-0 on a late-minute goal by veteran forward Woo Seong-yong. But in the two-game series to be determined by goal differential, the one-goal margin still appears precarious for the Chunma.
Despite the loss, the Bluewings’ head coach, Cha Bum-kun, said after the game that the deficit is nothing to be concerned about. The Bluewings go home to Suwon for the second game this Saturday, and it was there that it defeated the Chunma 3-0 just a month ago.
Until Woo scored with three minutes left in the match, the Suwon team played its patented tight defense. And it is that defense that gave the Bluewings six wins and a tie in seven home games in the season’s second half. They gave up only two goals in the process.
It’s not as though the Bluewings lack firepower. Midfielder Baek Ji-hoon, who joined the team in a mid-season trade, has five goals in 12 games with his new team, and four of them are game winners. Kim Dae-ui, a former Chunma striker, has seven goals in 10 career games against Seongnam.
“We were pretty defense-minded today, but the game wasn’t much fun to play,” said defensive midfielder Song Chong-gug. “But we’re going home for the next game. We’ll be more aggressive.”
The Chunma only need a tie to claim the league title, and so expect them to play conservatively to protect the advantage from the first match. And Woo, the 33-year-old coming off a knee surgery last summer, will see to it that the offense is taken care of.
“When I was with the Pohang Steelers in 2004, we lost to Suwon in the finals,” Woo told reporters after the game Sunday. “Hopefully, I will get my revenge this year.”
by Yoo Jee-ho