The World Cup this summer has been great and having watched all three Korean matches in City Hall square I’d kind of managed to convince myself that it was the same as live football even though I had one eye on the return of the K-League. As so it was on the last weekend in June I grabbed my cooler and made my way out to Bucheon Stadium and the K-League Two 3rd v 2nd clash that was Bucheon 1995 vs Seongnam FC.
I arrived early hoping to enjoy some prime staek (yes that’s how the guy spells it) but unfortunately he must have his van in for a much needed English class and so I had to make do with some ‘dak gochi’ or chicken skewers. I took my slightly charred chicken and made my way to a group of tables across form the stadium for some food and beer (chi-mek). It was only once I sat down that I noticed there was some kind of event going on across the grassy area and after a few minutes realized that it was in fact an announcement of the new Bucheon Stadium which most expected to be open by now never mind not even having had the ground broken. The Hermes members, (Bucheon Ultras) seemed happy with the mayor’s explanations and plans and a few mayoral selfies later made their way into the ground to start abusing all in sundry.
I enjoyed a peaceful second beer now that Hermes were gone and finally made my way up and around the huge old lady that is Bucheon Stadium towards the away end. There was rain forecast and so the Seongnam Ultras had set up shop in the top tier of the stadium which along with shelter brings with it a less than eagle-eye view. As I was walking around the fans to the back, I rarely sit with them as I don’t want to be THAT foreigner , I was summoned over by Johnny, the flag bearer, and given a “gift” from Russia …. my very own World Cup beer cup. He has obviously been watching me try to get past the security at Tancheon. I decided to save the cup for a special occasion, slipped it into my bag and pulled out a cold can of ‘4 for 10,000W’ Asahi and got myself seated ready for the undoubted 90 mins of pure adrenaline that lay ahead.
So onto the game in question and I’m not saying the first half was boring but it was less enjoyable than watching Japan vs Poland…sober…as the designated driver for your mates…who got unlimited free sake… served by the members of Twice….doing ‘love shots”! I think you get my point. It was obvious that both teams were trying to shake off the rustiness of the World Cup break and as the half-time whistle sounded I reached for my gift from Russia and emptied a can of Asahi into it. In fairness Bucheon probably did have a couple of chances to open the scoring and it seemed like Seongnam were solely missing Muralha’s dig and strength in the midfield (more on that in a later post) and were in danger of being over-run by the energetic, if not creative, midfield of Bucheon.
The second half started a little more brightly for Seongnam as, not for the first time this season, Nam’s words seemed to spur them on. Unfortunately for all the chances they were creating they looked like they couldn’t score even if the goals were twice the size and the Bucheon keeper was still in GS outside. With the game looking like it was going to be one of those nights we were suddenly treated to 10 mins of mayhem and magic as first Bucheon took the lead only for Seongnam to peg them back then go in front. The first goal came courtesy of Jin Chang-soo (see here for where I predicted he was the one to watch) as he picked up a careless pass in midfield, was allowed to plough forward unchallenged and released a shot past Kim Keun-bae from about 20 yards.
Regular readers will know by now that this Seongnam team is a completely different animal from last year and within 2 mins they were demonstrating that as Choi Byung-chan gathered the ball on the edge of the box, weaved his way past a couple of Bucheon players and fired the ball past Choi Cheol-won to level things at 1-1. A mere 3 mins later and he turned the game on its head as he poked a Lee Hyeon-il cross home to put Seongnam ahead 2-1.
Bucheon threw everything into the match and on 77 mins they looked to have leveled things as Jin Chang-soo had the ball in the back of the net for his second of the night but it was chopped off for handball although replays would show that to be a tad harsh. The game finished 2-1 to Seongnam and a massive 3pts in their push for the title, and with results going their way on the Sunday night they would finish the weekend top of the table.
It’s E-Land at home next for Seongnam while Bucheon host arch-rivals Anyang.