Gimcheon overtake Ulsan for top spot as K League title race intensifies

Pohang Steelers coach Park Tae-ha speaks during an interview in Buk District, Pohang, May 7. Yonhap

The race for the Korean football title took another interesting turn over the weekend, with clubs near the top trading places once again.

Gimcheon Sangmu FC climbed to first place with a 2-0 win over Daegu FC on Saturday, which gave them 39 points through 20 matches with 11 wins, six draws and three losses.

Two-time defending champions Ulsan HD FC had a chance to regain the top spot Sunday but instead lost 2-1 to Pohang Steelers in their second “East Coast Derby” of the season.

Ulsan now trail Gimcheon by one point at 38, from 11 wins, five draws and four losses. Pohang, with just one loss in their past six contests, are right behind Ulsan with 37 points.

These three clubs have occupied the top three spots virtually all season long, and with 18 matches to go, the picture isn’t any clearer.

Gimcheon have now won three straight matches, tied with FC Seoul for the longest active streak. Ulsan, on the other hand, suffered their first loss in six matches after conceding two goals within the first 20 minutes of the rivalry match against Pohang.

If Ulsan do end up pulling off their “three-peat” this year, it will likely be the toughest of the three titles they will have captured.

In 2023, Ulsan had 50 points after 20 matches, with 16 wins, two draws and two losses. They enjoyed a 13-point lead over Pohang, and Ulsan ended up winning the title by 12 points.

Two years ago, Ulsan held a five-point lead over Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors at the 20-match mark, 43-38, and hung on to win the championship by three points.

“I am sure it’s fun for the people watching this, but for someone directly involved, this is quite stressful,” Ulsan head coach Hong Myung-bo said with a wry smile after his team’s loss Sunday. “There are a lot of matches still left. And I think it’s more exciting for the league to 카지노사이트킹 have a different team in first place every week, rather than to have one team dominate and everyone else play for second place.”

Pohang coach Park Tae-ha said the derby win came at a critical juncture for his side. If Pohang had lost, they would have fallen seven points back of Ulsan.

“We’ve just scaled a big mountain that is Ulsan,” Park said. “I am sure this victory will instill a lot of confidence in our players.”

Both Gimcheon and Ulsan will play Friday night. Gimcheon will try to extend their winning streak to four when they visit Incheon United. Ulsan will face Suwon FC, who are in fifth place with 33 points despite a -2 goal difference.

At the other end of the table, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors remained stuck in last place after falling to FC Seoul 5-1. Jeonbuk still have not won a match under new head coach Kim Do-heon, with two draws and four losses since the former midfielder took the reins at the end of May.

With 16 points, Jeonbuk are two points back of Daejeon Hana Citizen. The last-place team in the K League 1 each season will be directly relegated to the second-tier K League 2 for the following year.

The K League introduced the promotion-relegation system in 2013, and Jeonbuk, who have won more championships than any club with nine, would be by far the most accomplished club to be relegated.

Last year, four-time champions Suwon Samsung Bluewings were relegated for the first time, and they will need a strong push the rest of the season to earn promotion back to the top competition

2 thoughts on “Gimcheon overtake Ulsan for top spot as K League title race intensifies

  1. Awsome article and right to the point. I am not sure if this is really the best place to ask but do you guys have any thoughts on where to get some professional writers? Thanks 🙂

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