Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma v Al Shahab, Wednesday 20th October 2010, 7.30pm

If the name Al Shahab is unfamiliar, it’s because they are from Saudi Arabia. Last night I was at Tancheon Stadium watching Seongnam take them on in the second leg of their Asian Champions League semi-final. Al Shahab held a 4-3 lead from the first leg and so barring a goalfest, a win by a single goal would be enough to take the Korean team through on away goals.

Jen had managed to get us free tickets through some Facebook group she was in, although I doubt too many people actually ever pay to get into Seongnam. They regularly give away tickets to schools and colleges to boost their crowds which on the occasions I’ve been there so far have still been well under a thousand.

View from the river

I was late getting to the stadium and as I got nearer it sounded as if the attendance was way above the usual turnout. I’d missed the kick-off and I could hear the roar of the crowd from the other side of the river. I met Jen outside and we made our way into the north stand, which is the section behind the goal where the home fans congregate.

Last time I was here, there were about thirty fans in the stand. They made a decent effort to get behind their team but with so few of them it wasnt much of an atmosphere. This time though, the stand was just about full as was the east stand to our left.

East Stand

With us being fifteen minutes late, we had to just take seats a couple of rows from the front which wasn’t a great view. The running track meant that we were a long way from the pitch and the advertising boards obscured our view of the players legs from their knees downwards.

I've had better views.

It was a fairly even first half, the Saudi’s looked a decent team, but Seongnam were creating plenty of chances. They managed to take one after half an hour when Jo Dong Keun finished after a flick on from Dzenan Radoncic. That put them level at four each on aggregate but ahead on away goals. The fans around us celebrated as a trip toTokyo for the final beckoned.

One Nil.

At half time I got a couple of beers and we moved further back for a slightly better view. The area that we moved to was a bit livelier too, with more kids in it than a goat orphanage. Most of the crowd had those bits of cardboard that you can either hold up as a sign or fold into something that makes a noise when you strike something with it. Initially they were hitting them against the backs of chairs or themselves. However, as most of the supporters around us appeared to be teenage lads, it wasnt long before they were all hitting each other. None of it was particularly aggressive and a lot of it seemed subconcious, it’s just the way fourteen year old boys behave with each other. At times, it was more entertaining than the match as they would wait until one of them looked the other way, or glanced at the match before catching him unawares.

I'm glad I'm not a teacher.

We spent about ten minutes watching them whacking each other on the head until I couldn’t resist it any longer and after picking up and folding my own bit of cardboard, I gave a couple of them in front of me what is traditionally known as ’a clip’. Their mates seemed to appreciate it even if the recipients didn’t.

Actual bodily harm? Possibly. But worth it.

The second half was pretty open, with both teams having opportunities on the break. Neither side managed to take its chances though and eventually the ref blew to send Seongnam into the final.  As we left it seemed as if half the crowd were cracking each other on their skulls with the bits of cardboard. I hope it catches on elsewhere.

3 Responses to “Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma v Al Shahab, Wednesday 20th October 2010, 7.30pm”

  1. Cogstar Says:

    Better than those useless trumpets. Oh and stop slacking, you missed out what you had to eat!

  2. Jen Says:

    Not only did we have fried chicken served in some kind of sauce, the couple at a nearby table offered us some fine domestic chocolate as an appetizer, or possibly to save for dessert.

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