Relegation race spices up K-League’s final week

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Relegation race spices up K-League’s final week

The long overlooked second-tier group in the K-League will attract some attention tonight as the two worst teams in the group enter a crucial stage that will decide their fate for the next season.

Gwangju FC, seventh in the eight-team Group B, and sixth-place Gangwon FC will be playing their second-to-last matches of the season on the road. Gwangju visits Daegu, while Gangwon plays at Seongnam.

The relegation system introduced this season is designed to demote the two worst-performing teams at the end of the season. The cellar-dwelling Sangju Sangmu Phoenix reserved one of the relegation spots early on.

Gwangju has 42 points, trailing Gangwon by one point. Gwangju will be relegated if it loses tonight and Gangwon wins.

A Gangwon draw and Gwangju loss would put Gangwon three points ahead, with Gwangju still having a chance to escape relegation. Gangwon is four behind Gwangju on goal difference.

But Gwangju is enjoying some momentum, coming off a five-game undefeated streak that included a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Seongnam Chunma on Nov. 17. Gangwon won twice, drew twice and lost once in its past five games.

If both win tonight, the competition to avoid the relegation would turn into a three-way race on the final weekend of the season.

The Daejeon Citizen, fifth in Group B, would remain on 47 points with a loss tonight to the Chunnam Dragons.

The final matches of the season for the three teams are on Saturday with Gwangju playing at home against the Dragons, Gangwon hosting Incheon United and Daejeon hosting Daegu.

The Phoenix have had all of their 14 second-half matches declared losses after they boycotted them in protest of the league’s decision to relegate the military-managed team.

The team was ruled lacking qualification to play in the top league for reasons related to ownership and player contracts, according to the K-League. The Phoenix finished the first-half second to last with only seven victories from 30 games.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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