It was a rain-battered Seongnam fanbase that left Tancheon on Sunday October 10th 2016 having witnessed their team huff, puff and basically look disinterested as they sideways passed their way to a 0-0 against Incheon United in the first of 5 disastrous Relegation Group matches. As the fans made their way around the almost flooded running track between temporary stand and the main exit morale was surprisingly high, comments of “There’s no way we’ll be relegated” ringing out with some of the more optimistic among the black-clad fans even going as far as to joke that “That point for Incheon might get Bluewings relegated”. Fast forward 4 weeks and nobody was laughing anymore, well nobody sporting a magpie on their chest or a black scarf around their neck. That 0-0 would be the only positive in a bleak end to the season for Seongnam as they would amass only 2 points in total and score a solitary penalty on their downward journey into the playoffs and ultimately the K-League Two.
Now while 2020 has become a unique season, and one that nobody Globally hopes will be repeated, Seongnam do find themselves eerily on familiar ground as they get ready to face Incheon United in the first of five Relegation Group matches (I can’t get used to Final B). As the famous saying goes, “the more things change, the more they stay the same” and, after this afternoon’s Bluewings victory in The Supermatch, Seongnam once again find themselves precariously perched on the pillar of K1 survival. It didn’t have to be this way to be honest, blowing leads to Jeonbuk and Busan while meekly surrendering at home to Bluewings and Seoul have left the boys in black in a situation they could have and should have been able to avoid. Unlike in 2016 when the fans could blame Tiago’s sickening transfer and the resulting defensive tactics of Kim Hak-beom as reasons for their predicament, this year they have no such excuses and the blame, on the forums at least, lies at Kim Nam-il’s feet.
After Incheon they face Gangwon, the team that officially relegated them to the K2, then Seoul, Bluewings and finally a trip to Busan. That trip to Busan is as symbolic as both the Incheon and Gangwon clashes as it was a long trip South to Pohang where their playoff fate was secured in 2016. Seongnam have, at times, this season shown glimpses of football that would have made the Dutch master of ‘total football’ proud, but those glimpses have more often than not been accompanied by defensive lapses, especially in the air, all the while being peppered with some mind-boggling tactical changes deployed by Kim Nam-il who displays a bit of Brendan Rodgers Syndrome ie. thinking he’s the smartest man in the stadium when he so clearly and obviously is not.
So much of both Seongnam and Incheon’s fate rests on Sunday’s 2pm kick-off, a win for Incheon and the proverbial cat is not just amongst the pigeons it’s pushing them side to side while gleefully thinking of which one to devour first. A win for Seongnam though and they are almost safe with the relegation battle potentially coming down to only Incheon and Busan (depending on the Southerners result against Gangwon). A victory for Seongnam would also allow the fans to look ahead to the penultimate fixture against Bluewings and the joyful prospect of finishing above their Samsung-sponsored rivals. Dreams are what football was made for, unfortunately as a Seongnam fan dreams have been the reality for the fans of other K-League clubs, right now I will settle for an uninterrupted sleep and 3pts against Incheon.
Prediction : A hard fought home win : Seongnam 2 Incheon1