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K League-leading Ulsan looking to match winning streak record

By Yonhap

Published : April 14, 2023 - 09:49

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Seol Young-woo of Ulsan Hyundai FC (center) and Kim Bo-kyung of Suwon Samsung Bluewings (left) vie for the ball during the clubs' K League 1 match at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, some 310 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on last Wednesday in this photo (K League 1) Seol Young-woo of Ulsan Hyundai FC (center) and Kim Bo-kyung of Suwon Samsung Bluewings (left) vie for the ball during the clubs' K League 1 match at Munsu Football Stadium in Ulsan, some 310 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on last Wednesday in this photo (K League 1)

Having captured their first six matches of 2023 in the K League 1, Ulsan Hyundai FC are one victory away from equaling the longest winning streak to start a season.

Standing between first-place Ulsan and the record books this weekend will be Daejeon Hana Citizen, a newly promoted team boasting the league's most productive offense this year.

The showdown between the two early contenders will kick off at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Daejeon World Cup Stadium in Daejeon, 140 kilometers south of Seoul.

Two clubs, the 1998 Suwon Samsung Bluewings and the 2003 Seongnam FC, share the league record for the longest winning streak at the beginning of a season with seven. Ulsan will join that company if they can get past an exciting Daejeon team that scores a bunch and also concedes a bunch.

While winning their first half-dozen matches, Ulsan have conceded the fewest goals in the league with four, and they rank second in goals scored with 13. Ulsan have registered two clean sheets and have yet to allow more than one goal in any match so far this year.

Daejeon, sitting in fourth place with three wins, two draws and one loss, are the leaders in goals with 14, though one of them is an own goal by an opponent. Daejeon have scored at least three goals four times.

At the other end, Daejeon have conceded 11 goals, tied for the second most in the K League 1. They suffered their first loss of the season last Sunday when they blew a 2-0 lead against Suwon FC en route to a 5-3 defeat. Suwon scored all five goals in the second half.

Daejeon's crushing loss notwithstanding, Ulsan head coach Hong Myung-bo said his upcoming opposition has exceeded his expectations.

"We must not put too much pressure on ourselves to tie the winning streak record," Hong said. "It's just a number. Our focus is on winning every match."

Both clubs have been getting production from up and down the roster. For Ulsan, new Swedish forward Gustav Ludwigson leads the way with four goals, and six others have chipped in at least a goal apiece.

Daejeon have had goals from nine different players, led by Tiago Orobo with four.

Ludwigson and Orobo are tied for the league lead in goals, along with Jasir Asani of Gwangju FC. Two Daejeon players, Lee Jin-hyun and Leandro Ribeiro, have collected four and three assists, respectively, to rank first and second in the league.

Elsewhere in the K League 1, Pohang Steelers, the only other undefeated club so far this year, will take on FC Seoul at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Pohang have had four wins and two draws so far, sitting four points back of Ulsan in second place.

Also on Saturday, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors will try to win consecutive matches for the first time this season, when they face Suwon FC at 7 p.m.

Jeonbuk, who had won five straight titles before finishing as runners-up to Ulsan last year, are in seventh place with two wins, one draw and three losses. (Yonhap)