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Under caretaker boss, Suwon Samsung Bluewings seek 1st win of K League season

By Yonhap

Published : April 21, 2023 - 10:04

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Suwon Samsung Bluewings players walk off the field at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, 30 kilometers south of Seoul, following a 3-2 loss to Jeju United in a K League 1 match last Saturday. (Korea Professional Football League) Suwon Samsung Bluewings players walk off the field at Suwon World Cup Stadium in Suwon, 30 kilometers south of Seoul, following a 3-2 loss to Jeju United in a K League 1 match last Saturday. (Korea Professional Football League)

With their season on the brink after a seven-match winless skid at the onset, Suwon Samsung Bluewings will be chasing their first win of 2023 under a caretaker manager this weekend.

One of the K League 1's most prestigious and proud franchises, Suwon Samsung find themselves in last place among 12 clubs this season, with two draws and five losses. This is the longest winless streak to start a season in the club's history.

The previous record was a six-match skid at the start of 2017. But they turned things around by winning the next three matches and finished the year in third place.

The dismal start this time cost head coach Lee Byung-geun his job on Monday. The team then elevated top assistant Choi Sung-yong to the position of caretaker manager the following day.

Choi will be thrown right into the fire, as his first match in charge will be against Suwon Samsung's old nemesis, FC Seoul, in the latest edition of the "Super Match" derby. The kickoff is at 2 p.m. Saturday at Seoul World Cup Stadium in the capital city.

FC Seoul are in fourth place with four wins, one draw and two losses. They've scored 13 goals, six more than Suwon Samsung so far, and have scored in every match this season. Suwon Samsung have conceded a league-worst 13 goals.

Suwon Samsung barely avoided being relegated last year, having to win a close playoff match against FC Anyang of the second-tier K League 2. At this rate, though, Suwon Samsung may face direct relegation this time, almost an unthinkable proposition for a team with four league titles.

Also in the K League 1 this weekend, the top two clubs will clash in their own regional derby, as Ulsan Hyundai FC host Pohang Steelers at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Ulsan, some 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

Ulsan suffered their first loss of the season last week against Daejeon Hana Citizen FC, but still remain in first place with 18 points from their six wins. Pohang are now the league's only undefeated team with four wins and three draws, which put them three points back of their east coast rivals in second place.

Ulsan and Pohang are tied for the fewest goals conceded this season at six apiece, and Ulsan have had a little more firepower with 14 goals, three more than Pohang.

Ulsan's first-year forward from Sweden, Gustav Ludwigson, leads the K League 1 with five goals. Lee Ho-jae is Pohang's top goal scorer with three. (Yonhap)