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K League's bottom dwellers Incheon looking to move up

15:47 September 15, 2020

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Sept. 15 (Yonhap) -- Incheon United have spent virtually all season at the bottom of the K League 1 table.

Heading into their 21st match of the season, Incheon finally have a chance to get out of the cellar.

In a rare midweek match Wednesday, Incheon will host FC Seoul at 7 p.m. at Incheon Football Stadium in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of the capital. It is one of four contests scheduled for Wednesday evening, a quick turnaround after matches on Saturday and Sunday.

Stefan Mugosa of Incheon United celebrates his goal against Gangwon FC during a K League 1 match at Gangneung Stadium in Gangneung, 230 kilometers east of Seoul, on Sept. 6, 2020, in this photo provided by the Korea Professional Football League. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

After Wednesday, all 12 clubs will each have one more match remaining on Sunday before they are divided into two tiers in the split phase. The top six will be grouped in "Final A" and the rest will end up in "Final B." They will then play the last five matches of the season within their own group.

With 15 points, Incheon have no shot at cracking the top six, but they now have a realistic shot at avoiding automatic relegation by finishing in last place. That in itself is a remarkable turnaround for a club that didn't win any of their first 15 matches of the season, with 10 losses and five draws.

FC Seoul are fresh off a 2-1 victory over Suwon Samsung Bluewings, with those precious three points elevating them to sixth place at 24 points, two clear of Gwangju FC.

Han Seung-gyu of FC Seoul (R) is congratulated by teammate Park Chu-young after scoring a goal against Suwon Samsung Bluewings during a K League 1 match at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul on Sept. 13, 2020. (Yonhap)

Both Incheon and FC Seoul have gone through coaching changes this season and have enjoyed some success under new bosses. It's also a matchup of the K League's most anemic offense -- Incheon have netted 14 goals -- against its most porous defense -- Seoul have conceded 36 goals.

Incheon are just two points back of Suwon, who will host Pohang Steelers at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, 45 kilometers south of Seoul.

Suwon have posted just one win in their last six matches to drop precariously close to the relegation zone. Pohang have recorded three straight victories to sit comfortably in fourth at 34 points, one back of Sangju Sangmu.

Suwon's home stadium, affectionately called Big Bird, has been a tough place for Pohang, who have lost in three of their last six visits.

In this file photo from Aug. 16, 2020, Cesinha of Daegu FC (C, in blue) is surrounded by Incheon United players during their K League 1 match at DGB Daegu Bank Park in Daegu, 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Other matches on Wednesday will feature clubs that are all hoping to join the top six.

Busan IPark, in 10th with 21 points, will host Gangwon FC, who also have 21 points but remain one spot ahead of Busan thanks to a goals scored edge (24-20). It's a 6 p.m. kickoff at Busan Gudeok Stadium in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

The 8 p.m. nightcap will pit fifth-place Daegu FC, with 27 points, against Seongnam FC, currently in eighth with 22.

Daegu's Brazilian star Cesinha will look to extend his scoring streak to four matches. He has moved into second place in the goals department with 13. Daegu will try to win for the first time since Aug. 2, seven matches ago.

Yeom Ki-hun of Suwon Samsung Bluewings takes a penalty against FC Seoul during a K League 1 match at Seoul World Cup Stadium in Seoul on Sept. 13, 2020. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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