Posted May. 27, 2015 07:37,
Seongnam is the team that has had more championship titles than any other teams in the K-League. Since its establishment in 1989, it became the first team in the K-League to win three consecutive K-League titles from 1993, and achieved three consecutive championships from 2001 anew. It rose to the top place in the league on seven occasions, including its victory in 2006. However, since transforming into a team run by citizens last year after its parent company gave up its operation, the club has seen its situation deteriorate from the past.
Does the gene of a prestigious soccer club remain in the club nonetheless? Barely hanging on the Classic by ranking ninth in the regular season league last year, which cast dark cloud over the outlook of its performance this year, Seongnam is performing fairly well by ranking sixth in the regular season league as of Tuesday. The team has displayed even more impressive performance in AFC Champions League (ALC). After advancing to the round of 16 best teams for the first time as a team run by citizens, the team became the only team among the four teams in the K-League to secure a win at a first round home game held on Wednesday last week. Its victory is all the more significant because it secured the win over the Guangzhou Hengda (Ever Grande), the champion of the 2013 ALC and the strongest team in the Chinese Super League.
Seongnam will play the second, final match in the round of 16 teams against Hengda at 9 p.m. on Wednesday. It will advance to the quarterfinals even when it ties the game. Seongnam last advanced to the quarterfinals or higher in 2010, when it won the championship.
There are variables. The Tianhe Stadium in Guangzhou is an ultra large stadium that can accommodate up to 60,000 spectators. The Korean team should overcome Chinese soccer fans unilateral cheering for the Chinese team. The former should also get over Guangzhous hot weather and high humidity, and potentially biased judges in favor of the Chinese team playing at its home ground. Coach Kim Hak-beom of Seongnam plans to bank on a defense first before strike tactic as in the first match. As Hengda, which lost the first game, is expected to aggressively stage offensives, the Korean soccer team plans to seal the goalie as tightly as possible, while seeking to find a loophole in the enemy team. Seongnam also have high expectations on its veteran player Kim Doo-hyeon who has recovered capability and skills that he had during his heydays, and Jorginho and Ricardo, expat players who have seen improving performance lately.