K League-leading Ulsan have match postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak

SEOUL-- The Korea Professional Football League (K League) announced Friday it has postponed an upcoming match between Ulsan Hyundai FC and Pohang Steelers due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Ulsan's locker room.

The league office said the Matchweek 6 showdown between the regional rivals, initially set for 4:30 p.m. Sunday in Ulsan, some 415 kilometers southeast of Seoul, will instead take place at 2 p.m. on March 27 at the same venue.

According to the K League, Ulsan will have only 13 healthy players available by Sunday, with the rest of the club serving mandatory quarantine following positive tests, after the virus swept through the squad this week. Under the league's health and safety protocols, teams must be able to dress at least 17 players, including one goalkeeper, in order to play matches.

Ulsan are the early leaders of the top-flight K League 1 with 13 points from four wins and one draw. They are the only undefeated team so far this season. Pohang are nipping at Ulsan's heels, with 10 points on three wins, one draw and one loss. They lead the league with eight goals, one more than Ulsan.

Ulsan extended their lead by beating FC Seoul 2-1 last Friday. In the ensuing days, both clubs have seen multiple COVID-19 cases pop up.

Ulsan had to play a playoff match at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League on Tuesday severely undermanned -- to a degree that their 37-year-old player-coach Lee Ho, who didn't appear in any match last year, had to dress and sit on the bench as a possible substitute.

FC Seoul, which first reported a handful of cases on Tuesday, had 11 players who tested positive for the virus as of Wednesday.

FC Seoul have one win, two draws and two losses. They will host Jeju United at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

No other team in the league has reported COVID-19 cases.

Elsewhere in the K League 1, five-time defending champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors will try to end their three-match losing skid, when they host Gimcheon Sangmu FC at 7 p.m. Saturday at Jeonju World Cup Stadium in Jeonju, some 240 kilometers south of Seoul.

To shore up their midfield corps, Jeonbuk acquired national team midfielder Kim Jin-gyu on Thursday. Jeonbuk are currently in 11th place among 12 teams with four points from one win, one draw and three losses.

The only club below Jeonbuk, Seongnam FC, will chase their first victory of the season at 7 p.m. Sunday against Incheon United.

Seongnam also kept busy on the player transaction front this week, having signed veteran forward Lee Jong-ho and Colombian striker Manuel Palacios.

Incheon have been one of the season's early surprises, with 10 points from three wins, one draw and one loss putting them in third place. Incheon have often dug themselves early holes and had to play catchup, but they are tied for second-most wins so far this year, only one back of Ulsan.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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