Weekend PicksKBO League
Samsung Lions at Hanhwa Eagles
Friday - Sunday, Hanwha Life Eagles Park, Daejeon
Amid tough competition for first place in the league, the defending champion Samsung Lions will meet the fifth-place Hanhwa Eagles, a dark horse throughout this season, in Daejeon. The Eagles have beaten the Lions more than any other team this season, going 6-2 so far.
Eagles outfielder Kim Kyeong-eon will be added to the roster on the last day of the series. The 32-year-old has a .339 batting average in 51 games, but his performance in the five games since he returned on July 8 after an injury was underwhelming. Relegated to the minors since then, his return may boost the Daejeon club’s injury-plagued offense.
But the Lions are also stronger. Chae Tae-in and Kim Sang-su, who were injured, have already returned. Chae appeared in Tuesday’s game against the Kia Tigers and had three hits on Wednesday. Kim contributed a single that day as well.
Incheon United at FC Seoul
7 p.m. Saturday, Seoul World Cup Stadium
After seeing Wednesday’s FA Cup quarterfinals, K-League fans will be interested in this Saturday’s match between FC Seoul and Incheon United. This game may be a preview of an FA Cup semifinal; both clubs are among the four semifinalists in the tournament.
Incheon has been the surprise of the K-League Classic this season. Once considered a candidate for downgrading to the second division K-League Challenge, it is now in seventh place. Before July 12, when the club lost to Seongnam FC, Incheon was in fifth after winning four of six games.
FC Seoul, standing sixth, is only a point in front of Incheon in the standings.
FC Seoul has won only one of its last seven league matches. But a former national team striker, Park Chu-young, roused fans by scoring two goals in Wednesday’s FA Cup against the Pohang Steelers. This contest could be interesting.
Seoul leads Incheon in the two clubs’ matches, at 14 wins, 14 draws and seven losses.
Suwon Samsung Bluewings at Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors
7 p.m. Sunday, Jeonju World Cup Stadium
Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Suwon Samsung Bluewings both lost their strikers, Eduardo Goncalves and Jong Tae-se, two weeks ago. But Jeonbuk and Suwon are still at the top of the league standings, in that order.
Considering both teams’ recent performance, this could be an entertaining match. Jeonbuk had four wins and three draws in its seven most recent games, and Suwon brings a recent four wins and four draws into the match.
Lee Dong-gook of Jeonbuk is second on the scoring table and now has eight goals. The Bluewings’ Yeom Ki-hun, who was the MVP of the K-League All-Star Game, has nine assists to lead that category.
Spanish striker Urko Vera and Brazilian midfielder Luiz Henrique have joined Jeonbuk, but coach Choi Kang-hee told the media they were not prepared to play Sunday. Jeonbuk has beaten Suwon in their last three matches on its home turf.
BY NAM YOON-SEO [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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