Ulsan Hyundai captain Shin Jin-ho beat Sangju Sangmu defender Bae Jae-woo in the 13th match of the K-League at Sangju Civic Stadium on Saturday. South Korean football leaders Ulsan Hyundai will be one of four teams vying for the Asian club title starting this week, with six matches over the next two weeks. The group stage of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Eastern Region Champions League begins on Friday with teams from the country, Japan, China, Australia and Thailand.
The four K-League teams that advanced to the AFC Champions League this year – Ulsan, Jeonbuk, FC Seoul and Suwon – have all made it to the quarter-finals of the Korea FA Cup, and you can count on them from now on. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motor, three points behind Ulsan in K-League 1, will also face Busan IPark in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday night. Daegu FC from the top league and Jeonnam Dragon from the second tier of the K League 2. Ulsan Hyundai FC and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motor are two contenders for the K-League 1 title, and their goal is to achieve a “double” in the K-League or win two major trophies in the same season.
Ulsan will open their title race against Kawasaki in a matchup between the two reigning leaders of the top championships in South Korea and Japan; if South Korea’s Ulsan Horang wins the title, South Korea’s 12th continental crown, a record in the Asian Champions League and its predecessor in the Asian Club Championship. Since November, South Korea’s Ulsan Horang-i has been in Doha, having played eight games in 23 days, including a 2-1 semi-final win on Sunday over Japan’s Vissel Kobe, and winning all eight games, setting a tournament record.
Besides K-League top scorer Lee Dong-guk, the most famous name outside of Korea to win the K-League MVP is Ahn Jong-hwan, who was named league MVP in 1999. In 2015 to find out when a player last won back-to-back K-League MVP awards, Jeonbuk Hyundai’s Lee Dong-guk is the only player to accomplish the feat so far. Pohang Steelers moved into the second position after defeating Seongnam FC 1-0 on Sunday. Jeju United has moved up to the third position after a 3-1 victory over Gimcheon Sangmu FC on Sunday. Incheon United fell from second to fourth place the very same day, losing 1-0 to Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. All three teams have 19 points, but Pohang leads the way in the first tiebreaker category, goals scored, with 14. So far, Jeju has 13 goals, and Incheon has 12.
While coming off the bench in the 25th minute, Ulsan’s fast midfielder Um Won-sang got involved in all three of the team’s goals. Ulsan is seven points ahead of Pohang. The exact amount of points separates Pohang and eighth-place Daegu FC. Pohang cannot catch Ulsan but may drop to fifth position this weekend.