The Lotte Giants? Huh? Who?
Sports is a world of ‘what have you done for me lately.” Now it's up to the city's two football clubs (or soccer teams if you're from the other side of that other pond) to bring some trophies home.
Both Busan I'Park and the Busan Transportation Corporation (BTC) are on the brink of doing just that. While the BTC are challenging for National League honors, Busan I 'Park are seeking a place in the Asian Champions League if they can overcome K-League rivals, the Suwon Bluewings at the Asiad this Sunday.
The I’Park reached the final after defeating Chunnam Dragons 3-2 (after extra time), in a game that will be talked about for years to come by Korean football enthusiasts.
After Yoo Ho-joon had given the home side a 38th minute lead, the I'Park sat back allowing wave after wave of Chunam attacks. The I'Park's uncompromising and fortuitous defence was finally broken when Brazilian journeyman Antonio Rogerio Silva equalised with just 13 minutes remaining. Chunam should have won it in the 90 minutes after the I'Park had been reduced to 10 men. However, against the odds, I'Park manager Hwang Sun-hong rallied his 10 troops who came out a different side in extra time much to the delight of the I'Parks vocal fans who stood sipping cans of Hite behind the goal. Their mood was lifted further once Han Sang-woon drilled home to restore Busan’s lead five minutes into the first extra period.
Another Brazilian, Adriano Neves Pereria dampened the mood with a leveller on the stroke of half time in extra time. With a penalty shootout looming, striker Han Ji-ho's smart finish sent the home fans wild and the I'Park into their first cup final since the late Ian Porterfield guided them to FA Cup glory in 2004. Cue pitch invasion and water sprinklers!
With Suwon likely to bring a vocal and passionate following and Busan's increasingly effervescent fan-base, the final is not to be missed. Asiad Stadium is a short walk from Sports Complex. Take exit 9 and follow the signs. Kick off is at 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 24th. If you want atmosphere, head to the home fans terrace behind the goal.
If you can't make that game, consider a trip to the Gudeok Stadium to catch BTC in action for your football fix. Entry is free, and a loyal band of expats have been warmly received into the BTC's football loving fan-base. Quality may be lacking, but it's always a fun Friday evening with soju and beer drinking encouraged by the locals on the terraces. The BTC games at Gudeok are played on Friday evenings at 7pm.
With attendance on the up, football is booming in Busan!
Check their website at http://football.subway.busan.kr/main/ for details of forthcoming games.