K3 club Hwaseong faces tough draw at FA Cup

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K3 club Hwaseong faces tough draw at FA Cup

It’ll be David versus Goliath in the semifinals of the Korean Football Association (FA) Cup next month.

Following the draw at the KFA House in Seoul on Wednesday, Suwon Samsung Bluewings of the top-flight K League 1 will take on Hwaseong FC of the semi-pro competition K3 League.

The first leg is Sept. 18 in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi, and the follow-up match will be Oct. 2 in Suwon, Gyeonggi, located to the east of Hwaseong.

The other semifinals match will pit Sangju Sangmu of the K League 1 against Daejeon Korail of the third-tier Korea National League.

Suwon is tied with fellow K League 1 club Pohang Steelers for most FA Cup titles with four. Suwon’s last FA Cup title came in 2016.

Hwaseong is the first K3 League club to make the final four at the FA Cup, which is in its 24th edition. The current K3 leaders knocked off the K League 1 side Gyeongnam FC in the quarterfinals.

The winner of the FA Cup will compete at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League in 2020. Each year, the top two teams in the K League 1 plus the FA Cup winner qualify for the AFC Champions League’s group stage for the following season, while the third-ranked team from the K League 1 gets into the playoffs for a spot in the group stage.

Suwon is currently in sixth place in the K League 1 with 32 points, 13 points behind the third-ranked FC Seoul with 14 matches remaining, and their only realistic hope of making the AFC Champions League next year will be by winning the FA Cup.

Sangju Sangmu, a military club made up of conscripted pros doing their mandatory service, is in seventh place in the K League 1. This is Sangju’s first appearance in the FA Cup semifinals since 2014.

Daejeon Korail blanked K League 1’s Gangwon FC 2-0 in the quarterfinals, but their most impressive victory to date came in the round of 32 in April, when they upset Ulsan Hyundai, currently the K League 1 leaders, by 2-0.

No Korea National League outfit has won the FA Cup.

The first match of that series will be in Daejeon on Sept. 18, and Sangju, North Gyeongsan, will host the second leg on Oct. 2.

The final will also be two-legged and the matches will take place on Nov. 6 and Nov. 10.

The FA Cup is open to professional and amateur clubs. Four university teams made it to the round of 32 this year but all teams ended their journey there.

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