Asia: Japan and South Korea in cup semi-final action
In South Korea Suwon Bluewings and Buson I’Park won their KFA Cup semi-finals after hard fought encounters with Jeju United and Chunnam Dragons respectively. In Japan the J-League Cup has reached its final four stage and the first legs of the semi-finals were played today. Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Kawasaki Frontale hold the advantage after they defeated their opponents Shimuzu S-Pulse and Jubilo Iwata respectively. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the action.
The South Korean FA Cup is an important trophy for all teams who enter it as the winner of the tournament gets one of the coveted four spots reserved for South Korean clubs in the Asian Champions League. Both of today’s semi-finals were keenly fought with both going into extra-time. Buson I’Park took a first half lead against Chunnam Dragons thanks to Ho-Jun Yu’s 37th minute strike but the Dragons equalized thirteen minutes from the end of normal time through Indio. In extra-time Busan regained the lead through Jung Hwa-Han only to see Adriano Chuva restore parity for the second time on behalf of Chunnam. It was left to Ji Ho-Han to score what proved to be the winning goal with ten minutes of extra-time remaining and they now face Suwon Bluewings in the final after their game against Jeju United saw the dreaded penalty shoot-out after a goalless 120 minutes. Suwon Bluewings held their nerve to go through by three goals to two and seal a date with Buson in the final.
The J-League Cup is third on the priority list of Japanese domestic football following the J-League and the Emperor’s Cup. Nonetheless this tournament guarantees the winner an international cup final where they will meet the winners of the Copa Sudamericana in next year’s Suruga Bank Championship which was won by a Japanese team, FC Tokyo, for the first time in the tournament’s history in 2010.
In Yahama Stadium in Iwata home side Jubilo were hoping to take full advantage of playing in front of a partisan crowd in the first leg but it was the visitors from Kawasaki who would triumph. Striker Masaru Korotsu, who has played with Kawasaki Frontale in all of his career, gave his side the crucial breakthrough after 50 minutes. In the other semi-final Sanfreece Hiroshima won their home leg against Shimuzu S-Pulse by the odd goal in three. The hosts took a two goal lead with strikes from Tadanari Lee and Yojiro Takahagi but the visitors reduced the deficit on 76 minutes through Takuma Edamura and who knows how important that goal could prove to be?