Ulsan, Pohang, and Gwangju, the ‘3 Teams, 3 Colors’ 2023 Success Story

The 2023 season of the Korean League came to a close on September 9 with the second round of the promotion playoffs. It was a year characterized by historic successes for some teams, while others didn’t even make the cut.

Ulsan Hyundai, Pohang Steelers, and Gwangju FC, who finished first, second, and third in the K League 1 this season, got what they wanted. They declared dynasties, fulfilled long-held dreams, and realized firsts for their clubs.

▶’Back-to-back league champions’ Ulsan outperforms 2022 in 2023

After finishing runners-up to Jeonbuk Hyundai for the third consecutive year from 2019 to 2021, Ulsan came out firing on all cylinders in the 2022 season. The team finally won the title on October 16 in the 37th round against Gangwon FC, making it 17 years since the 2005 season.

As the defending champions, Ulsan’s 2023 campaign was even more dominant: while their Hyundai rivals slipped to the bottom of the table with six defeats in their first 11 games, Ulsan raced to a 38-point lead with two six-game winning streaks in their 15 league matches through May. Ulsan’s dominance was even more pronounced than in the 2022 season, with a whopping 11 points ahead of the second-place group of 27 points formed by FC Seoul, Jeju United, and the Pohang Steelers. They also tied for the most points in the first half of a season in K League 1 history (47) after 19 rounds of play.

Ulsan was chased by Pohang in the second half of the season, but ultimately won the title with three league games remaining. They won the title two games earlier than last season. Having never relinquished the top spot between March 19, when the fourth round of the league was played, and December 3, when the league final was played, Ulsan returned to the K League 1 crown in the 2023 season as a stronger champion.

▶’Top of the FA Cup in 10 years’ Pohang writes ‘an English-only miracle’

Pohang was even within nine points of leader Ulsan heading into the K League 1 Final Round (the final five matches between teams ranked 1-6), which runs from rounds 34-38. However, they faltered in the final round and lost the league title to Ulsan. 헤라카지노

Pohang looked to be on the wrong end of the stick again in the FA Cup final on March 4, trailing Jeonbuk 1-2 with 20 minutes left in regulation. But Pohang refused to give up, coming from behind to beat Jeonbuk 4-2 and win the club’s fifth FA Cup title in 10 years. It was Pohang’s first trophy since the 2013 ‘Double’.

Pohang also qualified for the AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE – Asia’s top competition) for the 2023-2024 season after winning the FA Cup and finishing second in the league. It’s been a miracle for Pohang, a city that surprises soccer fans by exceeding expectations every time.

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