The Pain of Defeat

Eran Maman

Wednesday morning saw AS Uijeongbu 07 make the short trip to Seoul for the club’s much-anticipated Korea Cup semi-final clash against FCFC Ulsan. In addition to progressing to the final stages of the cup the two sides are also competing for top honors in the K-League, with FCFC Ulsan currently second and AS Uijeongbu 07 sitting third with an eye on the possibility of earning a double come the end of the season.

Au7 has struggled in their previous fixtures against FCFC Ulsan — drawing 1:1 at home in the league earlier this season and controversially losing 5:2 in the final of the Korea Cup two seasons ago — which added an additional layer to the atmosphere of the match. Training took a backseat to winning and several of the club’s best players found themselves playing their second match of the week as head coach Hyun-Seok Baek focused on exorcising memories of the previous final and progressing to the last stage of the current edition.

However, it seems Uijeongbu were unable to escape the demons of seasons past; the team immediately found themselves under pressure and conceded four goals in the opening 15 minutes. Despite once more controlling play in midfield the Au7 players were unable to capitalize on their advantage and recorded a meager 6 attempts at goal compared to the 9 chances generated by FCFC Ulsan. Former Korea Cup top scorer Güçlü Püser has been serving as the team’s sports psychologist for the past several seasons but may soon face some strong questions about the effectiveness of his work given the poor goal-scoring record of the team in important matches.

Güçlü Püser won’t be the only one working late into the night though; club medic Bum Shin will also be hard at work doing everything he can to bring Eran Maman back to match fitness as quickly as possible. The Israeli keeper was unfortunate to pick up a collarbone injury 79 minutes into the match that has left him unavailable for the next four weeks — an agonizing length of time to be without such a vital player.

AS Uijeongbu 07 has a five point lead over traditional rivals Jinzerg in the K-League standings but are themselves four points behind leaders Gangnam_ Style with a match against the league leaders this Sunday. Back-up keeper Temuder Vachir has served the club faithfully for nearly 13 seasons but there’s understandable concern that his skills are no longer adequate for the country’s top division, leading to rumors that the club may be seeking a short-term replacement for Maman.