Updated August. 02, 2014 03:28
Koreas pro soccer league K League Classic has entered the second half in full swing from Saturday.
The second half is expected to show even more intense competition for rankings than the first half. Following the changed regulations, the 12 K League Classic teams play 33 matches before going through an additional split five rounds between the top six in the Group A and the remaining six into Group B. If a team is put in Group B, it must wage a fierce battle not to be downgraded to the second division. The mid-tier teams are anticipated to undergo severe competition to remain in Group A.
During the All Stars match furlough, each team has overhauled their manpower by recruiting new faces. Ulsan, which is sixth as of Friday, has added a whopping eight new men and sent nine members of its team to other teams. In particular, it has replaced all of its main foreign players. It has filled its foreign player quota of four, from two Brazilian midfielders and a Montenegro midfielder, in addition to hiring a Palestinian midfielder for its Asia quota. Jeonbuk has hired Shin Hyung-min, who once represented Korea on international matches, and a Brazilian midfielder. FC Seoul has recruited a striker who was proven in Seongnam Ilhwa.
On the other hand, top-ranked Pohang is notable as it has not imported a single player. It plans to play a closed-door soccer this season following last season as it has no foreign player at all.
Experts say the hottest month will be August. The teams must play six league games on both weekdays and weekends. This is due to their schedule being pushed back because of the World Cup tournament in Brazil. Added to that are the Korean FA Cup quarter-finals and the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) quarter finals, as a result of which physical stamina to endure the grueling schedule will be an important variable in the rankings.