A large crowd of fans gathered at the Suwon World Cup Stadium on a tolerable, but still chilly, day compared to the bitter cold of recent days. The men in blue had only one wish: to see Suwon avoid relegation. The away fans of Gangwon FC, who made up about 3,000 of the 24,932 total crowd, also had one wish. All they needed was for Gangwon to win or draw against Suwon to avoid dropping from 10th to 12th place.
Coach Jung Kyung-ho, who was interviewed before the game in place of Kangwon’s Yoon Jung-hwan, who was suspended for accumulating warnings, predicted that Suwon would prioritize defense and look for counterattacks. And indeed, Suwon came out defensive. With the initiative in hand, Suwon was well-prepared for the game, and the game flowed according to their expectations.
Suwon had a strangely inactive game plan. In the final game of the season, which would decide their relegation and playoff fate, they didn’t play like a team at the bottom of the league that needed to win. Although Kangwon’s Yoo In-su hit the post in the 34th minute, the goalless first half seemed like a half success for Suwon.토토사이트
In the second half, Suwon brought on Kim Joo-chan and Kim Bo-kyung, as well as Mullich, to bolster their attack. However, the efficient counterattack that had worked against FC Seoul in last week’s Super Match was missing. It could be that Suwon has become more solid as a team over time, but their attacking patterns were monotonous and their pace was not fast enough. For the fans in the stadium, the passage of time seemed to drag on. Gangwon’s backline and defense pushed Suwon’s attacks away with ease, allowing only three shots on goal.
In the 28th minute of the second half, things got very unfortunate for Suwon. A cross from the right was met by Mulicic in the penalty box with no defense in the way, but his volley went over the crossbar. Mulicic, who was brought in to fill the transfer gap left by last season’s promotion playoff hero Oh Hyun-gyu, had just missed the target. I couldn’t help but think, ‘What if Oh Hyun-gyu had been there?
Of course, Gangwon didn’t capitalize on their scoring chances. Eight of their nine shots on the day were on target, so the Gangwon offense was focused but fruitless. Yoon Il-rok and Gabriel came close to scoring, but were unable to capitalize, forcing the game to remain tense until the end.
When the five minutes of extra time expired and referee Ko Hyung-jin blew the whistle to end the match, the Suwon World Cup Stadium fell silent, with the only cheers coming from the away end. Head coach Yoon Jung-hwan, who was unable to sit on the bench and watched the game from the media box, high-fived the club’s staff and expressed his joy at securing a playoff spot.
At the post-match press conference, acting head coach Yeom Ki-hoon had a difficult time answering many questions. “There are many differences in the squad between when I first came to Suwon in 2010 and now. Back then, we had some very famous players and the club budget was different. It’s true that it’s not as good now as it was then. The players are still working hard, but I would like to see some more big names and good players in the team,” he said, citing the biggest reason for the relegation. “With investment, the team will be stronger, and the old and new players will compete more. I think the most important thing is investment,” he said in a direct message to the club.
The relegation of four-time K League champion Suwon came as a shock to other teams as well. “I never once imagined Suwon’s relegation,” said Kangwon coach Jung Kyung-ho, who has spent time in the K League as a player and coach. Last year, Suwon survived through the playoffs, and I thought they would learn from that and establish themselves as a leading club in Korea, but I think they had a lot of problems this year as well. It’s unfortunate in terms of K League box office. Even though it was the last game, the fans were cheering and the atmosphere was full, but it is unfortunate that an important team, a leading club, fell.”
On December 7, 2008, Suwon won its last league title at home. The image of the team defeating their biggest rivals FC Seoul and lifting the trophy in a blizzard of snow is still very much in the hearts of Suwon fans. Exactly 15 years later, however, the club would suffer its first relegation since its inception at the same venue.