The ‘Seolgi County Derby’ is on.
Incheon United will host Gyeongnam FC in the fourth round (round of 16) of the 2023 Hana OneQ FA Cup on June 24 at 7 p.m. at the Incheon Football Stadium. The winner will face the winner of Suwon Samsung vs Daegu FC on June 28 in the quarterfinals 메이저놀이터.
Incheon joined the competition from the round of 16 as a qualifier for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League (ACL). The team is ready for the challenge. In an interview with ‘Interfootball’ at the opening media day, Incheon head coach Cho Sung-hwan said, “If there are no injuries and we don’t lose our enthusiasm during the long schedule, I think we can do better than last year’s league performance. I also think we should go all-in on the FA Cup and win one trophy. I’m juggling the league and ACL, but I’d like to give the FA Cup a go,” he said of his ambitions.
It’s time to shake off the disappointment. After finishing as FA Cup runners-up in 2015, Incheon had a string of disappointing results. The quarterfinals in 2016, the round of 32 in 2017, the round of 16 in 2018, the round of 32 in 2019, the round of 32 in 2020, the round of 32 in 2021, and the round of 32 in 2022 were disappointing, especially the fourth consecutive year of round of 32 exits.
Incheon must perform this year, and the FA Cup is the right stage to accomplish that goal. We have the advantage of playing both the round of 16 and quarterfinals at home, so we need to capitalize on that.
First up is Gyeongnam in the round of 16. Gyeongnam is in sixth place in the K League 2 with five wins, six draws, and two losses (21 points) so far. Recently, their form has taken a turn for the worse. They have not won against Seoul Eland (1-2 loss), Ansan Greeners (1-1 draw), Seongnam FC (2-2 draw), and Busan I-Park (1-2 loss). May alone has been the worst month with two draws and two losses.
Gyeongnam’s head coach is Seol Ki-hyun. Seol previously played for Incheon. He played from 2012 to 2014. He then abruptly announced his retirement four days before the start of the 2015 season and took over as acting head coach of Sungkyunkwan University. It wasn’t a pretty parting, and Incheon fans felt betrayed.
That’s why this match is called the “Seol Ki-hyun Derby. An interesting situation was created by the fact that for the first time, Seol Ki-hyun would appear as an opponent in the Incheon Football Stadium.