After their 1-1 play-off draw against rivals Daejeon Hana Citizen on Wednesday, Gyeongnam FC advanced to the South Korean football’s final promotion playoff with Lars Veldwijk’s FC Suwon on Sunday.
Ko Kyung-min scored a 70th minute equalizer for Gyeongnam, 10 minutes after Edinho put Daejeon ahead in the first half of the derby. This game had more significance because it was a promotion play-off semi-final.
As the higher seed, Gyeongnam only needed a draw with no extra time or penalty shootout in the format. On the other hand, Daejeon had to win to advance and they caught a tough break when Bruno Baio missed a penalty and then had a last-minute goal disallowed following a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review.
Just before his shot, Daejeon’s Lee Jong-moon fouled a Gyeongnam player in the box, causing the goal to be wiped out.
Gyeongnam will face Suwon FC in the final play-off game with the winner earning a promotion to the top-division (K-League 1) for next season.
From the K-League 2, the league winners earn an automatic promotion to the K-League 1 each season. Jeju United claimed that spot this year with 60 points. Then the second-placed team advances to the promotion final each year.
Suwon FC finished second this season with 54 points.
Third- and fourth-ranked teams meet in the first playoff match for a chance to compete for the promotion.
Gyeongnam and Daejeon both finished with 39 points, and Gyeongnam ranked ahead thanks to their 40-36 superior goal difference which helped them.
Just over a year ago Veldwijk helped Dutch Eredivisie side Sparta Rotterdam get promoted back to the elite league in Netherlands. The striker will once again be called upon to score the goals for the club as he has been doing towards the end of the season.
Suwon FC have beaten Gyeongnam in all three matches this year.
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By Prince Sobayeni