Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

South Korea: Jeonbuk claim second K-League title over Ulsan (video)

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on December 4, 2011

Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors logoJeonbuk Hyundai Motors are South Korean champions for the second time in three years following their play-off triumph over Ulsan Hyundai.

Jeonbuk were huge favourites going into this year’s final having finished top of the regular season standings whilst their opponents Ulsan had knocked out FC Seoul, Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Pohang Steelers en route to this year’s showpiece.

In the first leg of the final, which was played in Ulsan on Wednesday evening, Jeonbuk had Eninho to thank for giving the visitors a 2-1 win over their hosts and a useful lead going in to today’s crucial return fixture. With the first half of the second leg goalless Ulsan still had the capacity to cause one further shock in the play-offs and when Ki-Hyeon Seol scored ten minutes after the break an upset seemed on the cards. However any nerves which the home were suffering were extinguished just six minutes later when Eninho scored another vital goal, this time from the spot, to give the home side the aggregate lead once more. Luiz Henrique put the game beyond doubt with twenty minutes to play when he gave Jeonbuk a 2-1 second leg lead, and a 4-2 aggregate advantage, which Jeonbuk retained for the remainder of the game.

For Ulsan it was just one step too far but their team can be proud of their efforts this season which culminated in a League Cup win and winning a place in the 2012 AFC Champions League as a just reward for their play-off exploits. For Jeonbuk the triumph of a second K-League title in three years now brings greater challenges; retaining the national title is of great importance but the dream of winning a second AFC Champions League title will be uppermost in the minds of everyone at the club next season.

JEONBUK HYUNDAI MOTORS v ULSAN HYUNDAI, 2ND LEG HIGHLIGHTS

Asia: Title showdowns bring tension in Japan and Korea

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on November 26, 2011

Kashiwa Reysol logoTo coin a well-known footballing phrase, it’s squeaky bum time in two of Asia’s biggest leagues.

In Japan the title will go down to a last day showdown with any one from Kashiwa Reysol, Nagoya Grampus Eight and Gamba Osaka all capable of winning the championship. Kashiwa currently hold the advantage of topping the table with 69 points from 33 games whilst Nagoya and Osaka trail the leaders by just one and two points respectively with one round of matches to be played next weekend. The title race has become all the more tension filled due to Kashiwa’s inability to beat Cerezo Osaka at home today, both teams having to be satisfied with a point following a 1-1 draw. The slip allowed Kashiwa’s title rivals to reduce the gap at the top with defending champions Nagoya and third place Gamba Osaka enjoying wins against Yamagata (3-0) and Vegalta Sendai (1-0) respectively. Next weekend’s final round of fixtures sees all three title chasers on the road with Kashiwa away to Urawa Red Diamonds, Grampus Eight hosted by Albirex Niigata and Gamba Osaka travelling to Shimuzu S-Pulse. Not only will the team at the top of the table enjoy championship celebrations next weekend but they also have the added incentive of participating in the FIFA Club World Cup as representatives of the host nation from December 8th.

Ulsan Hyundai logoIn South Korea the championship play-offs have brought about a surprise finalist as Ulsan Hyundai, who finished sixth in the regular season table, defeated experienced campaigners Pohang Steelers with a slender 1-0 score line in today’s semi-final. Seol Ki-Hyeon scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute of the game and managed to hold on to their precious lead despite a late flurry of attacks from the home side. The K-League enjoys a play-off system similar to the one used in the sport of rugby league at the end of its regular season, the system usually weighs heavily in favour of the top teams who play the fewest matches in order to claim the championship title. However Ulsan have surprised everybody by fighting their way through every round of the post-season tournament beating the likes of last season’s defending champions FC Seoul, Suwon Samsung Bluewings and today’s opponents Pohang to reach the final. They will play Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors in the two-legged showpiece with Ulsan hosting the opening leg on Wednesday, November 30th and Jeonbuk, who have rested throughout the play-offs up to this point, hosting the return fixture on December 4th.

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South Korea: Jeonbuk lead the way in final straight

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on August 10, 2011

K-League logoWith two-thirds of the K-League regular season completed the championship is reaching the business end in South Korea. Unlike most footballing top-flight divisions, the K-League determines its winners by a post-season play-off system in which the top six battle it out for the title. With 20 of the 30 regular season rounds played only league leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and second placed Pohang Steelers seem to be virtually assured of their play-off places.

Jeonbuk top the table with 43 points and enjoy a six point advantage over Pohang Steelers. Jeonbuk’s only defeat in the last sixteen matches came at the hands of Pohang who are the only club to have won the play-off format in its current format, adopted in 2007, from outside first place. Jeonbuk’s Dong-Gook Lee has featured prominently in the top three of the goal scoring charts throughout the season having scored ten goals so far and lies four and five goals behind Jung-Woo Kim (Sangju Sangmu) and Dejan Damjanovic (FC Seoul) respectively.

Speaking of FC Seoul, the defending K-League champions currently lie in fourth place with equal points to third place Jeju United (both have 33) and seem to rely a little too heavily at present on their Montenegran striker Damjanovic in their quest to re-capture the title. Along with Jeonbuk and eighth placed Suwon Samsung Bluewings, FC Seoul will resume their AFC Champions League campaign in mid-September and it will be interesting to see how those clubs involved in Asia’s top club competition can balance out demands at home and abroad.

Amongst the other sides battling it out for the play-offs there are five points separating third-place Jeju United from ninth-place Ulsan Hyundai. Ulsan have already won the K-League Cup this season and are hoping to win a domestic treble this season with further success in the Korean FA Cup (their semi-final against Suwon Bluewings takes place in late August) and the K-League. Completing the play-off places at the moment are fifth-place Chunnam Dragons and sixth place Busan I’Park (32 points) who both narrowly lead nearest challengers Gyeongnam FC by just a solitary point.

The biggest shock this season is the woeful form of record champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma. South Korea’s most successful club with seven national league titles and two Asian Champions League titles, the most recent of those came only last year, currently lie in 14th place in the 16 team league just one point ahead of second-bottom Daejon Citizen but comfortably ahead of Gangwon FC who have won just one game all season.

South Korea: FC Seoul win K-League Championship

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on December 5, 2010

K-League trophyFC Seoul have won the 2010 K-League championship following a 4-3 aggregate victory in the final and means that they have won their fourth league title following triumphs in 1985, 1990 and 2000.

With both teams going into the second leg of the final having drawn the first game 2-2 the stakes were high as the K-League reached its climax for yet another season. Jeju United, who were the away team in the second leg, took the lead after 29 minutes thanks in no small part to a goalkeeping error from Kim Yong-Dae, allowing Brazilian Santos Junior to pounce and give United the lead. Just as Jeju had got on the board it was the turn of the home team to level things out again as a penalty from Jo-Gook Jung made the score 1-1 just sixty seconds later.

The game was decided in the capital club’s favour in the 74th minute as Brazilian Adilson headed home to give FC Seoul the league title and secure the club’s second trophy this season. FC Seoul’s Portuguese coach Nelo Vingada has won the K-League and the K-League Cup double in his first season in charge and he can now look forward to taking his team into next season’s AFC Champions League. For Jeju United it’s a case of what might have been as they finished second for the fourth time in the club’s history but they do have the consolation of joining the champions in Asian football’s top club competition next season.

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Asia: Season begins in Saudi Arabia; Leagues round-up

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on August 16, 2010
T&T Ha noi

T&T Ha noi are the new champions of Vietnam

The new Saudi football season began and a new champion was crowned in Vietnam this weekend. In the meantime each of the three big Asian leagues in China, Japan and South Korea are now past the halfway point of their domestic championship seasons. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the latest developments from Asia.

The new 2010-11 season began in Saudi Arabia this weekend with everybody hoping to catch Al Hilal who won the league at a canter last season sealing the title by eleven points from nearest challengers Al Ittihad. Champions Al Hilal began their campaign of Sunday with a slender 1-0 win against newly promoted Al Taawon with Abdullatif Al Ghannam getting on the scoresheet. On Saturday night Al Ittihad were amongst the eight teams kicking off the new season and began with a 2-1 home win against Al Ittifaq who just survived a relegation battle last season and could find themselves involved at the bottom again this time. There were also wins for Al Quadisiya, Al Raed, Al Nasr and Al Ahli whilst the final game of the weekend saw a thrilling 3-3 draw between Al Wehda and Al Faysali.

T&T Hanoi are the new Vietnamese champions after securing the point they needed from their Matchday 25 game against already relegated Saigon. With two rounds of matches remaining T&T knew that one point from six would be enough to give them the championship and for coach Phan Thanh Hung, who took over from previous coach Nguyen Huu Thang at the start of the season, it was a fantastic way to end his first season at the helm and, as a result of the title success, T&T will get the chance to participate in the 2011 AFC Champions League qualifiers.

In China’s Super League Shandong Luneng remain in pole position (played 17, points 35) following a 2-1 win away at Chongqing Lifan with Deng Zhuoxiang and Julio César de León getting on the scoresheet to help the league leaders come from behind after Johnny Woodly Lambert had given the home side the lead. Shanghai Shenhua dropped two precious points in the title race and could only manage a 1-1 draw at Hangzhou Lucheng. After Duvier Riascos had given Shanghai the lead early in the second half Australian Adam Griffiths restored parity for the home side who drop from third to fourth place on the back of this result. Taking their place in third are Beijing Guo’an, the defending champions lie six points behind the league leaders after another Aussie international Ryan Griffiths, the aforementioned Adam’s brother, scored both goals in their 2-1 home win against Changchun Yatai.

Japan’s J-League remains very tight at the top with just six points separating the top four teams. League leaders Nagoya Grampus Eight (played 18, points 38) saw off the challenge of Urawa Red Diamonds by three goals to one with Keiji Tamada scoring twice for Dragan Stojković’s men. This win allowed Nagoya to climb above Shimuzu S-Pulse into first place as the latter went down to a 2-1 reverse at home to Yokohama F Marinos. Third place Kashima Antlers were three minutes away from gaining all three points against FC Tokyo but the visitors equalized in the 87th minute to prevent the defending J-League champions from claiming second spot in the table. Two goals in the second half from Yusuke Tasaka and Kengo Nakamura gifted three points to fourth place Kawasaki Frontale in their 2-0 home win against Sanfreece Hiroshima to leave them six points behind the league leaders.

In the South Korean K-League a top of the table clash saw Gyeongnam win a pulsating game against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors by three goals to two. After Gyeongnam had gone three goals to the good just after the hour mark they began to get nervous as the match entered its closing stages and allowed visiting Jeonbuk to pull back two goals in the space of sixty seconds but Gyeongnam managed to hold out and secure three points which takes them clear at the top (played 16, points 34). Jeonbuk are three points further behind along with second place Jeju United, who have the better goal difference, despite losing 4-2 away at Chunnam Dragons. Asian champions Pohang Steelers are still recovering from a dreadful start on the domestic front and won their second consecutive game this weekend away at bottom team Daegu FC by two goals to nil with both strikes coming in stoppage time. The win lifts the Steelers to eleventh in the fifteen team league.

Asia: Too close to call in Big Three nations

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on July 18, 2010
Kashima Antlers

Kashima Antlers remain on top of the J-League after a 2-1 win over Kawasaki Frontale

Things are getting interesting in the three biggest league championships of Asian football. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog highlights the latest developments in Japan, China and South Korea.

The top of the J-League table shows the top three teams separated by just two points after thirteen games. Champions Kashima Antlers are back on top of the table after a 2-1 win at home to Kawasaki Frontale with Jung Soo-Lee scoring the winning goal for Kashima in the 78th minute. Kawasaki had played with ten men for all of the second half after former Eintracht Frankfurt star Junichi Inamoto was sent off late in the first half and would eventually be made to pay after resisting the Kashima attack for so long. Shimuzu S-Pulse were top of the table before the weekend’s matches but drop into second place after a disappointing goalless draw at home to twelfth place Jubilo Iwata whilst Nagoya Grampus Eight closed the gap thanks to a Joshua Kennedy strike in the 76th minute to gain a slender 1-0 win over Omiya Ardija. Omiya are second bottom after Shonan Bellmare managed to jump from bottom (18th) place into 16th thanks to a 1-0 win away at Kyoto Sanga who now occupy the bottom spot thanks to that defeat.

In South Korea four points separate the top seven teams in another closely fought championship race. Ulsan Hyundai occupied the top spot before the weekend’s matches began but suddenly found themselves in fifth place after their 1-0 defeat at home to Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma. Jeju United are now at the top of the table following a 5-0 rout over second bottom club Gangwon FC. Seoul FC stay in third spot despite their 1-0 defeat away at Incheon United while Gyeongnam occupy fourth place after they defeated mid-table outfit Gwangju Sangmu 1-0. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Busan I’Park lie in sixth and seventh respectively having each put four goals past their hapless opponents. Jeonbuk beat lowly Daejeon Citizen 4-0 while Busan ensured that 2009 Asian Champions League winners Pohang Steelers remain in domestic despair following a 4-2 win. The Steelers are just two points and three places clear of bottom team Daegu FC as their K-League form remains in stark contrast to their performances at Asian level.

China’s Super League also sees a neatly bunched selection of clubs at the top of the table with six teams separated by four points. Shanghai Shenhua remain top despite dropping two points at home to fifth place Henan Jianye following a spectacular match which finished 3-3, the away side coming from 2-0 down to take the lead before Shanghai equalized fifteen minutes from time thanks to Duvier Riascos. This allowed Luneng Taishan to close the gap between themselves and Shanghai to just a point after they defeated Nanchang Bayi 1-0 with Zheng Zheng’s 55th minute goal enough to settle the match in Luneng’s favour. Hangzhou Greentown also remained in the running after a 2-0 victory over Shaanxi Chanba while Liaoning jump into fourth place on the back of a 2-1 win over Jiangsu Shuntian. Defending champions Beijing Guo’an missed the opportunity to close the gap and remain in sixth place following a heavy 3-0 defeat away at Dalian Shide

Asia: Three big leagues take a break for World Cup

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on May 29, 2010
Shimuzu S-Pulse

Shimuzu S-Pulse (in orange) currently lead the way in Japan's "J League"

With the FIFA World Cup only days away the three biggest leagues in Asian football are taking a break ahead of the big kick-off in South Africa on Friday, June 11th. Although China has failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup the Chinese Super League has taken a break until July 14th along with Japan’s J League whilst the South Korean K League returns three days later on July 17th. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” reviews the latest developments and looks ahead to the next matchday in each country:

JAPAN (Shimuzu 12/25; Nagoya Grampus Eight 12/22; Kashima Antlers 11/21)

Shimuzu S-Pulse are making the early running in the Japanese championship after twelve rounds although defending champions Kashima Antlers are still hanging on having been involved in the AFC Champions League until their recent exit in that competition at the hands of Pohang Steelers. Shimuzu S-Pulse, the only club in the current top four who have a Japanese coach, enjoy a three point cushion at the break having only secured a 2-2 draw away at FC Tokyo on Matchday 12.

Kashima Antlers’ chances at the top have significantly increased after their recent 4-1 drubbing of second place Grampus Eight in Nagoya last time out. Takuya Nozawa, Shinko Koroki, Marquinhos and Masashi Motoyama were on target for the champions with the lone reply coming from Australian Joshua Kennedy whose strike in this game took him to the top of the J League’s goalscoring charts with eight goals. But Nagoya, currently coached by former Crvena Zvezda and Olympique de Marseille star Dragan Stojković, have performed well thus far and will hope to get back on track on Matchday 13 against lowly Omiya Ardija. Elsewhere Urawa Red Diamonds and Kawasaki Frontale, both tied on twenty points, lost the chance to put further pressure on the top three having lost points in their most recent matches, a 1-1 at Vegalta Sendai and a 3-1 defeat at Jubilo Iwata respectively.

NEXT FIXTURES (14/07/10)

Kashima Antlers v Shonan Bellmare

Kawasaki Frontale v Omiya Ardija

(17/07/10)

Omiya Ardija v Nagoya Grampus Eight

Shimiuzu S-Pulse v Jubilo Iwata

Kashima Antlers v Kawasaki Frontale

(18/07/10)

Gamba Osaka v Urawa Red Diamonds

Sanfreece Hiroshima v Yokohama Marinos

CHINA (Shanghai 10 games/20 points; Shandong 9/16; Liaoning 10/15)

Defending champions Beijing Guo’an have found it tough going so far in the current campaign, perhaps aided by their AFC Champions League exploits, and currently lie in mid-table eight points behind league leaders Shanghai Shenhua. Having lost their most recent game 2-0 to Hangzhou Lucheng perhaps Guo’an can step up their title challenge upon the resumption of the league, especially now that South Korean side Suwon Samsung Bluewings have knocked them out of the Asian Champions League at the Round of 16 stage.

Shanghai Shenhua have a four point lead going into the break after their narrow 1-0 home win against Shenzhen Ruby and have accumulated twenty points from the first ten games thanks mainly to the goals of the league’s top scorer, Colombian striker Duvier Riascos. Their nearest challengers at the moment are Shandong Luneng who, sadly for them, lost their most recent fixture 1-0 to Shannxi Chanba but they still have a game in hand on the leaders so can close the gap in their next outing against Qingdao Jondon. The big surprise so far is newly promoted Liaoning Hunyong who lie third after ten games following their recent 1-0 win against Chongqing Lifan but Henan Jianye hang on to their coat tails despite dropping two points at home to Qingdao Jondon on Matchday 10 of the league.

Next Fixtures (14/07/10)

Shannxi Chanba v Shanghai Shenhua

Beijing Guo’an v Chongqing Lifan

Henan Jianye v Changsha Ginde

Qingdao Jondon v Shandong Luneng

Nanchang Bayi v Liaoning Hunyong

Changchun Yatai v Hangzhou Lucheng

Waldemar Lemos

Waldemar Lemos has just recently been sacked by Pohang Steelers after a string of poor results

SOUTH KOREA (Ulsan Hyundai 12/24; Jeju United 12/22; Seongnam Ilhwa 12/21)

It’s been a strange season in South Korea up to now especially regarding the clubs involved in AFC Champions League (AFC CL) action this season. Pohang Steelers, the defending champions of Asian football’s elite competition, have just fired their Brazilian coach Waldemar Lemos after the Steelers’ form at domestic level was in total contrast with that at international level. In the K League Pohang have lost four out of their last five matches with their most recent defeat, 5-2 at home to Jeju United, being the final straw for the Steelers’ board. Pohang currently lie in twelfth place but this is still better than their fellow AFC CL participants Suwon Samsung Bluewings who are rooted to rock bottom of the K League table after eleven matches played and their most recent match saw them lose 2-0 at home to table toppers Ulsan Hyundai.

Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma are the best performing out of the AFC CL participants and currently lie in fourth place with a game in hand on Ulsan after easily overcoming Chunnam Dragons in their last outing by four goals to nil. Ulsan Hyundai finished fourth last season and will have ambitions to remain in this area especially as they find themselves top of the table going into the pre-World Cup break. Until recently FC Seoul led the way but a 1-0 reverse to sixth place Incheon United saw the capital side lose some valuable ground whilst fifth place Gyeongnam FC also lost their last league game by the same scoreline, their opponents being Busan I’Park.

NEXT FIXTURES (17/07/10)

FC Seoul v Chunnam Dragons

Ulsan Hyundai v Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma

Jeju United v Gangwon FC

Daegu FC v Suwon Smasung Bluewings

Busan I’Park v Pohang Steelers

Gyongnam FC v Gwangju Sangmu

J-League and K-League champions signal the old and the new

Posted in Asian Football by peterbein on December 7, 2009
Kashima Antlers

Kashima Antlers have secured their third straight J-League title

Two major championships concluded in Asia this weekend, one championship congratulating a team who have turned winning into an art form on the domestic stage, the other congratulating a club who have finally landed their maiden national title.

Kashima Antlers were crowned champions of Japan this weekend securing a third straight title courtesy of a 1-0 win away at Urawa Red Diamonds. Shinko Koroki’s goal in the 66th minute proved enough as the Antlers finished two points clear of Kawasaki Frontale, whose 3-2 victory away to Kashiwa Reysol ultimately proved fruitless. Kashima cement their place as the most successful club in the J-League era as they have won the J-League championship seven times since its formation in 1993. At the bottom of the table JEF United, Oita Trinita and Kashiwa Reysol were relegated and they’ll be replaced in 2010 by Vegalta Sandai, Cerezo Osaka and Shonan Bellmare.

Things were different in South Korea where the K-League saw Jeonbuk Hyandai Motors lift their first ever league championship trophy. Jeonbuk had already clinched the regular league title finishing four points ahead of FIFA Club World Cup participants Pohang Steelers and FC Seoul. Following the regular season a play-off series was contested, Jeonbuk’s prize for finishing first in the regular table was a bye into the final. Five teams entering at various rounds were hoping to contest Jeonbuk in the final and, after three rounds, it was Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, who had finished fourth in the regular season, who were to be the lucky opponents with a shot at title glory. After the first leg of the final had finished in a goalless draw, Jeonbuk took no prisoners in the second match played at their home stadium in Jeonju. Eninho scored the first goal of the game after 21 minutes to set them on their way. After the Brazilian scored his second just before half-time, former South Korean international Lee Dong-Gook confirmed the match with a 72nd minute penalty for Jeonbuk to seal the deal, Seongnam getting a consolation goal through Kim Jin-Yong in the 84th minute.