‘No wins, no POs’: The ‘epic promotion war’ comes down to the wire


The ‘Hana OneQ K League 2 2023’ predicted an epic promotion war even before the start. The prediction of ‘1 of 12’ was not a pattern. This season, the K League 2 continued to fight for the top spot based on a strong mid-table. With just one game remaining, nothing is set in stone from the winner to the playoffs.

The race for the title between Busan I-Park and Gimcheon Commerce came down to the wire. Busan had a chance. On the 11th of Round 38 last weekend, Gimcheon drew 1-1 with Gyeongnam FC. On the 12th, Busan faced the Jeonnam Dragons, and a win would have clinched the title regardless of the outcome of the remaining games. A chance to return to the K League 1 four years after being relegated to the bottom of the table in 2020. However, Busan suffered a 0-3 defeat against Jeonnam. In fact, they allowed Gimcheon to catch up. Busan has 69 points (20 wins, 9 draws, and 6 losses), while Gimcheon has 68 points (21 wins, 5 draws, and 9 losses), just one point behind. Of course, Busan has the advantage. If Busan wins its final game against Chungbuk Cheongju, it will clinch promotion on its own. However, if Busan draws or loses, Gimcheon has a chance for some upset drama. Especially since Gimcheon (70 goals) is significantly ahead of Busan (49) in terms of goals scored, so Gimcheon will have the last laugh if the points are equalized. Gimcheon will face Seoul Eland.

The winner will be promoted automatically, while the runner-up will play a promotion playoff (PO) against the 11th-place team in K League 1. Busan coach Park Jin-seop said, “We just need to win the last home game. I told the players, ‘Do well, don’t be discouraged. The players are mentally prepared, so we will believe in them and do our best until the end.” 무지개토토

The race for the POs is more complicated for the teams in third through fifth place. Gimpo FC (60 points) has already clinched third place. Five teams were in contention for the two remaining tickets: Gyeongnam FC (53 goals), Bucheon FC (41 goals-plus 54 points), Jeonnam (53 points), FC Anyang (56 points), and Cheongju (36 goals-plus 51 points). The underdogs, Jeonnam, Anyang, and Cheongju, all won their last rounds, proving that they can come from behind.

Gyeongnam will face Gimpo, Bucheon will face Jeonnam, and Anyang will face Cheonan City FC. The head-to-head matchup between Bucheon and Jeonnam is attracting the most attention. Bucheon declared their full strength by training on Jeju Island during the break. Jeonnam is also in a good mood as they are on a steep upward curve with two consecutive 3-0 victories. “We have been strong in tournaments since college,” said Jeonnam coach Lee Jang-jang. Although Gyeongnam has the upper hand in terms of points and bracket, no one can predict what scenario will unfold as only one game will decide the outcome.

In the K League 2 PO, the winner of the semi-final PO between the fourth and fifth-place teams will play the third-place team in the final PO, and the winner will play the 10th-place team from K League 1 in the relegation PO, home and away.

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