FC Seoul v Jiangsu Sainty, Tuesday 26th February 2013, 7.30pm

2 - sainty on the attack

It’s the new season and about bloody time too. Whilst basketball is all well and good, it’s not football. Not even close.

And in case you were wondering why you haven’t heard of Jiangsu Sainty, it’s because they are from China. This was a Champions League fixture as the Korean domestic leagues don’t kick off until the weekend. Still, it’s a football match and so I went along.

I heard the hum of the vuvuzelas as I emerged from the subway station. There’s only really Seoul where that nonsense still goes on these days. In Korea anyway. I imagine the South Africans won’t have consigned theirs to the skip yet. I wondered if the noise was actually a recording as it seemed suspiciously loud for a game with what I suspected was going to be a pretty low attendance.

I bought a twelve thousand won ticket for the East stand. I usually go behind the goal with whatever away fans are visiting, but on this occasion I fancied observing the Chinese supporters from somewhere that gave me a decent look at them.

There were about three hundred of them and initially they made as much noise as the thousand Seoul fans in the opposite end. Both sets of fans waved massive flags but in a nice touch a lot of the Chinese fellas were also waving red flags that looked to be the perfect size to stick in the top of a sandcastle.

'We'll keep the red flag flying high..."

“Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer…”

Seoul had all of last season’s foreign players back for another year although I didn’t recognise Escudero at first as he’s spent the winter growing some hair. It wasn’t long before they made an impact and ten minutes in Escudero rolled the ball into the path of Dejan Damjanovic who stroked it home from fifteen yards out.

Sainty had a couple of big defenders who looked as if they had spent their off-season eating pies rather than growing their hair. They were dangerous at set pieces, particularly if they collided with anyone, but not particularly mobile when asked to defend. With half an hour gone a neat passing move from Seoul was too much for the statuesque centre halves and Yun Il Lock finished well to put the hosts two up.

Gratuitous admittedly, but so wrong at football.

Gratuitous admittedly, but so wrong at football.

At half time I moved to the North West corner, partly because I could but mainly so that I could get an idea of how many people were in the East stand. Not many is the answer. The official attendance was announced as 6,321 and whilst I didn’t actually count the people there, the crowd was small enough for me to be confident in my estimate of there actually being around four thousand fans inside the stadium.

Seoul have taken the decision for this season to close the upper tier in all but the West stand. I’m not sure why they’ve left that one open as there’s usually only around fifty people who choose to sit there. The blocking off of the areas will probably reduce the capacity to around forty thousand I’d imagine and even for the games against Suwon that will be more than enough these days.

The view from the north-west corner.

The view from the north-west corner.

Ten minutes into the second half Molina flicked the ball on to find Yun Il Lock in space and the kid notched his second of the game. It didn’t take long for Dejan to get his second as well as another smart passing move on the hour ended with him taking the score to four-nil.

Sainty pulled a goal back ten minutes from time when the Seoul defence failed to cut out a ball played across the box. It gave the away fans something to sing about but it didn’t mean much.

This was from the first half.

This was from the first half.

I nipped away a few minutes from time, not so much to avoid the traffic as there was none, but more because the temperature had dropped quite significantly. As I approached the subway I heard the sound of a fifth goal for Seoul being celebrated. A quick check the next day revealed Molina had tucked it away, a fair reward for his performance I thought.

Five – one was how it finished, the win taking Seoul to the top of their group.

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