Gyeongnam knock off Bucheon to keep K League promotion bid alive

SEOUL, Gyeongnam FC eliminated Bucheon FC 1995 in a playoff match in South Korean football's second division Wednesday, staying alive in their bid to earn a promotion to the top competition next year.

The two clubs had a goalless draw in the first playoff match in the K League 2 at Changwon Football Center in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province. And by virtue of finishing a spot ahead of Bucheon in the regular season in fourth place, Gyeongnam were declared the winner.

Gleyson Garcia of Gyeongnam FC (R) battles Lee Yong-hyeok of Bucheon FC 1995 for the ball during the clubs' K League 2 playoff match at Changwon Football Center in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Nov. 29, 2023, in this photo provided by the Korea Professional Football League. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE)

Gyeongnam will next face Gimpo FC, third-ranked club in the K League 2, in the second playoff match at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at Gimpo Solteo Football Field in Gimpo, just west of Seoul in Gyeonggi Province.

Neither Gyeongnam nor Bucheon recorded a shot on target in the first half. Needing only a draw to advance, Gyeongnam appeared happy to lock things down in their own end and frustrate Bucheon's forays into the box.

Gyeongnam goalkeeper Goh Dong-min stood tall to keep the match tied in the final stretch. He made his biggest save on a free kick taken by Nilson Junior on 88 minutes. Then during a mad scramble in the box a couple of minutes later, Goh made a desperate save with his right shoulder while he was already down on the field.

Gyeongnam FC players prepare for the start of the second half against Bucheon FC 1995 during the clubs' K League 2 playoff match at Changwon Football Center in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Nov. 29, 2023, in this photo provided by the Korea Professional Football League. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE)

The winner of the Gimpo-Gyeongnam match will meet the 10th-ranked team from the K League 1 in one of two promotion-relegation playoff series. The two legs of this series are scheduled for next Wednesday and then Dec. 9.

The other promotion-relegation playoff series will pit the 11th-ranked team from the K League 1 against Busan IPark, No. 2 seed from the K League 2. Their two legs are also set for next Wednesday and Dec. 9.

Gimcheon Sangmu FC received a direct promotion to the K League 1 after winning the K League 2 title Sunday. The 12th-ranked, and thus the worst, team in the K League 1 will be automatically relegated to the K League 2.

With one final match remaining Saturday, three clubs have a chance to finish dead last in the K League 1: Gangwon FC, Suwon FC and Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

Source: Yonhap News Agency