Korea Baseball Organization
KIA Tigers at Nexen Heroes
6:30 p.m. Friday, Gocheok Sky Dome, Seoul
Can KIA Tigers maintain their position in the top pool of Korea Baseball Organization league standings?
The Tigers, who have won 10 Korean Series titles since the establishment in 1982, had their golden era in Korean pro baseball in the ’80s and ’90s. Although it climbed back to the top in 2009 after more than a decade in the dark, things have gone haywire since then, some even calling its season after 2011 as the second dark age of the Tigers. Starting from the season in 2012, the Tigers have been unable to find themselves within the top bracket of the standings.
However, this year might be a turning point for the Gwangju-based team. The Tigers were on a six-game winning streak until Thursday and their winning momentum could continue as they prepare to take on Nexen Heroes on the road this weekend.
The Heroes, a rather young team, haven’t had much success since the team was born in 2008. The best they have done was finishing as runner-up for the Korean Series in 2014, when the Samsung Lions claimed their eighth title over the Heroes.
However, finding themselves in the new ballpark, the Gocheok Sky Dome, the first and only domed stadium in Korea, the Heroes have gained the love of their fans this season as they aim for postseason this fall.
FC Seoul at Sangju Sangmu FC
7 p.m. Saturday, Sangju Civic Stadium, Sangju, North Gyeongsang
FC Seoul’s new manager Hwang Sun-hong leads his squad in his second official game with the Seoul-based team. His first official match as the skipper of FC Seoul was on Wednesday when Seoul was defeated by Seongnam FC 3-1.
Although the second-ranked Seoul is tied with top-ranked Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors with nine wins, while Jeonbuk remains undefeated in the league with nine wins and eight draws, Seoul has lost five games while tying three. Hwang hopes to utilize Seoul’s forward trio Carlos Adriano, Dejan Damjanovic and Park Chu-yong to lift Seoul and take back the top position in the rankings from Jeonbuk.
The Brazilian striker Adriano is currently ranked second in goals with 11 and Montenegrin striker Damjanovic is ranked 10th with six goals. Park is closely behind Damjanovic with five.
Meanwhile, Sangju Sangmu FC, the football side of the Korea Armed Forces Athletic Corps, is ranked fifth in the standings. This comes as a shock for K-League fans since the military team just got promoted from second-tier football league in Korea, the K-League Challenge, and is in their first year in the first-tier K-League Classic. Park Gi-dong, who currently is serving his military duty, is ranked seventh in goals after netting seven goals so far this season.
Jeju United FC at Incheon United FC
6 p.m. Sunday, Incheon Football Stadium, Incheon, Gyeonggi
Lee Keun-ho’s Jeju United FC is to travel to Incheon, Gyeonggi, to take on Incheon United FC on Sunday.
Lee’s presence in the team has boosted Jeju’s popularity among K-League fans as well as its performance in the league. Once ranked near the bottom, Jeju has risen steadily in the rankings to find themselves in the third position.
Lee, a former national team striker who is well known among the football fans in Korea for his tenacity in the field as well as his work-rate and smart plays, joined Jeju United just after the season started this year and began to appear in the team’s game around April.
Since then, he has played in 14 K-League Classic games wearing Jeju’s orange jersey and has netted three goals while dishing out three assists.
In comparison, this year has been a nightmare for the Incheon-based team.
The runner-up for the Korean FA Cup last year behind FC Seoul, Incheon United was expected to do well this season. By all means, local fans were excited to see their club finally excel in the Korean professional fooball.
However, their goal drought this season forced the team to step down in the league standings, all the way to the 11th position. Essentially, Incheon has nowhere else to go but up. However, given the team’s recent performance, trying to gain some wins and momentum will not be an easy task for the otherwise troubled Incheon.