This season’s K League is far from over. Four teams on the cusp of staying in the top division or being promoted are set for a final battle. On June 6, the second-ranked Busan I-Park and 11th-ranked Suwon FC will meet at the Busan Asiad, and the third-ranked Gimpo FC and 10th-ranked Gangwon will meet at Gimpo Solter Stadium for the first round of the promotion playoffs (PO). The importance of the first leg is self-explanatory. Out of the 10 previous promotion POs, Kangwon is the only one to come back from a first-leg loss in 2021. Back then, Kangwon lost the first game 0-1 against Daejeon Hana Citizens, but came back to win the second game 4-1. We take a look at the situation of the four teams in this desperate game.
Busan and Suwon FC in desperate need of a change of pace
Busan missed out on the coveted K League 2 title. A win in the final match against Chungbuk Cheongju would have clinched the title, but Busan conceded an equalizer through Lee with just over a minute left in the game, allowing Gimcheon Sangmu to come from behind to win the title. Suwon FC also had several chances to avoid direct relegation early on, but a late-season slump saw them finish 11th. Suwon failed to pick up a single point in their last nine matches (four draws and five losses).
So the talk of the town for both teams is a turnaround. Strength is fine. Busan doesn’t have any injuries. They have the best squad. ‘Injury ward’ Suwon FC is also returning key resources. Lee Kwang-hyuk, Bautersson, and Shinsegae Oh In-pyo will all be available against Busan. Both teams will go into the match with the best resources they can muster. The key will be who can turn the tide first. Busan changed the atmosphere after the final game by having a meeting between the players. They had a heart-to-heart talk and set the tone for a do-over. Suwon FC drew 1-1 in the final against Jeju United before Lee Young-jae’s equalizer. It showed the team’s cohesion as they came from behind to get the result. 무지개토토
Busan and Suwon FC have a history. They met in the 2015 promotion playoffs. Suwon FC, who were making waves in the K League 2 at the time, defeated Busan, who were playing in the K League 1, to win their first promotion. In 2020, the teams didn’t play in the Promotion PO, but in a strange coincidence, Busan was relegated and Suwon was promoted. This year, the tables have turned and the two teams are preparing for another showdown. Fate is kind to Busan head coach Park Jin-seop and Suwon FC head coach Kim Do-gyun, who are best friends in the soccer world.