K League 1 returns Friday after international break
The K League returns from its two-week international break on Friday as Ulsan Hyundai looks to continue its unchallenged rule at the top of the table.
K League took a two-week break as the Korean national team played four June friendlies. Korea rounded off their friendlies with a big 4-1 win over Egypt at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Mapo District, western Seoul on Tuesday.
Korea had started the month with a 5-1 loss to Brazil at Seoul World Cup Stadium, before beating Chile 2-0 at Daejeon World Cup Stadium and then drawing 2-2 with Paraguay at Suwon World Cup Stadium.
K League players were able to show off some prowess, especially against Egypt on Tuesday, with Kim Young-gwon of Ulsan Hyundai Motors, Cho Gue-sung and Kwon Chang-hoon of Gimcheon Sangmu scoring three of Korea's goals in the 4-1 win.
Just five minutes after Bordeaux forward Hwang Ui-jo opened the scoring on Tuesday, Kim found his chance as captain Son Heung-min fired from the right field corner onto the head of Hwang, who sent the ball to Kim who dived and headed the ball into the net.
In the very last few minutes of the game, two more K leaguers had the chance to score. Cho came on for Hwang in the 78th minute, as head coach Paulo Bento made one last substitution.
That substitution immediately paid off as Cho found the ball in the 84th minute to turn on the spot before firing a perfectly placed shot through the defense and past the keeper's hands into the top right corner of the goal to take the score to 3-1.
Six minutes later, Korea came back for one more as Kim Jin-su picked up his second assist of the night with another perfectly placed cross to Kwon. Diving in front of the defense, Kwon, also a Gimcheon midfielder, headed the ball low into the right side of the goal, skimming just inside the post to take the score to 4-1.
Cho currently has the second-most goals in the domestic league, having scored 10 goals in 15 matches. Mugosa of Incheon United has the most goals so far, marking 11 goals in 15 matches.
Gimcheon Sangmu, coming fresh off promotion, had a good start in the 2022 K League season.
After holding last year's runner-up and current top club Ulsan Hyundai to a 0-0 draw, Gimcheon was able to start their season in the top half of the standings.
Gimcheon Sangmu had returned to the top league this season after being relegated to the K League 2 on a technicality after finishing fourth in the K League 1 in the 2020 season. In the 2021 season, Gimcheon were able to comfortably secure the top spot in the K League 2 to guarantee a move up to the first division even with two matches remaining.
However, Gimcheon has now fallen down to No. 9 in the standings, after a winless streak of five matches. The last time Gimcheon won a match was on May 5, when they beat Gangwon FC 1-0.
Gimcheon's next two matches will be at home, facing second-to-last team Suwon FC on Friday and bottom club Seongnam FC next Tuesday.
Ulsan Hyundai stays on the top of the standings with 36 points, Jeju United trails behind with 26 points, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors is third with 25 points, Incheon United is fourth with 24 points, the Pohang Steelers is fifth with 23 points and Daegu is sixth with 18 points. In the bottom half, FC Seoul is seventh, Suwon Samsung Bluewings is eighth, Gimcheon Sangmu is ninth, Gangwon is 10th, Suwon FC is 11th and Seongnam is 12th.
Gimcheon will be looking to cut their winless streak on Friday when they face Suwon FC at home. The Pohang Steelers will face Gangwon FC on Friday. On Saturday, Jeju United will face Incheon United while Seognam faces Daegu FC. On Sunday, Ulsan Hyundai will face Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors while Suwon Samsung Bluewings will face FC Seoul.
Friday's game against Suwon FC will also see Gimcheon play in a special uniform to honor Memorial Day on June 6 and the anniversary of the start of the Korean War on June 25. As the only military football club, Gimcheon will play in the new kit, based on the Korean military uniform, during its home matches on Friday and June 21.
The club also held a ceremony to mark the launch of the new kit earlier this week with four Gimcheon players donning the new uniform alongside veterans of the Korean War.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]