Pohang Steelers took a step closer to securing the third and final AFC Champions League position in South Korea on Wednesday night with a hard fought 0-0 draw against 4th placed FC Seoul.
Hwang Sun-hong’s side had capitulated in the second half of the season, winning only one of their last ten matches. But the draw should be enough to secure third place and presumed entry into the ACL’s third playoff stage.
All is not lost for Seoul, however, whose goal difference is superior to that of Pohang’s. The capital side could move up to third place with a win away at Jeju United and a Pohang loss at home to Suwon Bluewings in the league’s final round.
The draw capped a miserable week for Seoul, who could have directly qualified for the ACL’s group stage with an FA Cup win on Sunday. Instead, they fell to Seongnam FC on penalties and may potentially be unable to improve on their semifinal showing in the continental tournament.
In the relegation scrap, Seongnam took an enormous step to safety by battling to a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Incheon United. While the FA Cup champions have been short on both quality and goals this season, few could accuse them of lacking spirit, gaul, and resolve.
A scrappy game devoid of chances was settled through a Kim Dong-sub strike on the stroke of halftime. The result sets the stage for a relegation showdown between Seongnam and FC Gyeongnam. Seongnam, in control of their own destiny, are one point ahead and will play at home to Busan International Park. Gyeongnam will travel to already-relegated military side Sangju Sangmu. With late goals a specialty of the K-League, this weekend promises to be full of twists and turns.