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Football league announces kickoff times for opening weekend

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

The South Korean football league announced kickoff times and matchups for the upcoming opening weekend on Wednesday.

The Korea Professional Football League (K League) said the official season opener for the K League 1 between Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Suwon Samsung Bluewings will begin at 7 p.m. on May 8. Jeonbuk are the three-time defending champions, and Suwon won the 2019 FA Cup. Jeonbuk will host the showdown at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, 240 kilometers south of Seoul.

The league had announced last Friday that Jeonbuk and Suwon would meet to kick off the 2020 season, which was postponed from the original Feb. 29 start due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It will be the only match on May 8. It will be followed the next day by three more matches, with the 2019 runners-up Ulsan Hyundai FC hosting Sangju Sangmu at 2 p.m. at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

It will be the K League return for former Premier League midfielder Lee Chung-yong.

Gwangju FC, which got promoted from the K League 2, will play their first K League 1 match in three years on May 9 against Seongnam FC.

There will be two more matches on May 10, with Busan IPark, having also earned a promotion from the second division, set to make a return to the top competition after five years away.

The K League 1 will see 12 matches as part of its "Friday Night Football" series. The Jeonbuk-Suwon opener will be the first of the dozen.

With the start of the season pushed back by more than two months, teams will each play 27 matches, down from 38 in a typical season. They will play 22 matches against one another first, and then the top six and the bottom six clubs will be split into "Final A" and "Final B."

From that point, teams will each play five matches within their own group. Since there will be an odd number of games there, the league has decided to give teams with better records more games at home.

The top three teams in each group will get three home matches, while the bottom three will get two matches at home.

The early portion of the season will be played without fans in the stands. The league said it will wait for further loosening of government quarantine guidelines before making any decision on when fans will be allowed to come to matches. (Yonhap)
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