FC Seoul is in a spiral as Pohang takes sole control

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FC Seoul is in a spiral as Pohang takes sole control

FC Seoul’s slump continues as the defending champions failed to pick up a single point even against its long-time whipping boy, the Busan I’Park.

Seoul succumbed to Busan 1-0 in an away match on Sunday, dropping its standing to 11th in the 14-team K-League Classic as the season’s third week wrapped up.

It was the first time in two years and four months that Busan has beaten Seoul. Busan entered the game with a seven-game winless streak against Seoul that dated back to October 2010.

Seoul manager Choi Yong-soo has set his sights on both defending the K-League title and winning the Asian Football Confederation Champions League, but both campaigns are looking less certain.

Including a scoreless draw with Buriram United of Thailand in their ACL group competition last Tuesday, Seoul has failed to muster a win in four straight games, its first such winless streak since April 2011.

The K-League has entered a two-week break for international matches and Seoul will have to quickly get back on track to have a shot at defending its title. In the league’s 30-year history, only two teams have managed to win the league for two straight seasons: the Seongnam Chunma (1993-95, 2001-03, 2006-07) and the Suwon Bluewings (1998-99).

“Taking advantage of this break, we will try to improve and take a cautious approach toward every game,” Choi told reporters after the loss to Busan. “We will walk up [the standings] step by step.”

The Pohang Steelers, a team comprised only of Korean players, took sole leadership of the league at the expense of the Suwon Bluewings, who were aiming for a third straight win. The Steelers downed the Bluewings 2-0 at Suwon World Cup Stadium on Sunday, extending their winning streak against Suwon to four.

The Steelers are on seven points along with the Jeonbuk Motors and Incheon United, but the Steelers are ahead on goal difference.

The Steelers are leading the league in scoring with seven goals, raising hopes that it could become a rare example of a team with only Korean players to win the league. The K-League has used foreign players since its launch in 1983. The last team to have exclusively domestic players was Incheon United in 2000.

Incheon, which built a 19-game undefeated stretch against lower-ranked teams in the second half of last season, continued its strong start and won an away match against the Seongnam Chunma 3-1 on Saturday.

Jeonbuk was held to a 1-1 draw by Gyeongnam FC on Saturday.

In the opening week of the second-division K-League Challenge, Lee Keun-ho and Jung Jo-gook, two national team strikers, formed a two-way goal competition early on, scoring two goals apiece and contributing to their teams’ victories. Lee’s Sangju Sangmu Phoenix routed Gwangju FC 3-0 in a duel between the two former K-League Classic teams on Saturday. Jung’s Korean Police FC rallied from behind for a 3-1 victory over the Chungju Hummel FC on Sunday.

FC Anyang drew 1-1 with Goyang Hi FC on Sunday as more than 3,000 Anyang fans watched the first professional football match held at Anyang Stadium. Bucheon FC 1995 beat Suwon FC 3-2 on Saturday.

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