Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma F.C.
© AFP

The past
Over the past two decades, Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma have emerged as the K-League’s dominant force. Twice during this period, between 1993 and 95 and 2001 and 03, they have cemented their pre-eminent position by stringing together three successive domestic championships.
Founded in 1989, it was the club’s first-ever coach, Park Jong-Hwan, who established the Chunma’s (Pegasus) unique blend of attacking football and watertight defence. Seongnam’s first international successes came in the mid-1990s, when they first won the Asian Club Championship in 1995 before going on to claim the Asian Super Cup and the Afro-Asian Club Championship the following year.

The present
Further conquests followed, but after finishing runners-up in the AFC Champions League in 2004, when surrendered a 3-1 first leg advantage against Al Ittihad by losing the return 5-0, Seongnam appeared to be losing some of their lustre. They did go on to win their seventh national title under the guidance of Kim Hak-Bum two years later, but this influential tactician could not keep the Chunma from falling exiting the continental championship at the semi-final stage in 2007. Last year brought about a change in the dugout as former captain Shin Tae-Yong took charge, and the 40-year-old silenced his critics by leading a rejuvenated side to second place in the K-League and the final of the Korean FA Cup in his first season at the helm. Shin’s men then went on to take the Asian stage by storm in 2010, with new recruits Mauricio Molina, Dzenan Radoncic and skipper Sasa Ognenovski playing pivotal roles as Seongnam clinched the Asian title and, in doing so, secured a place at the FIFA Club World Cup.

The future
While Seongnam will make their debut on the world stage at UAE 2010, their captain Ognenovski has already experienced the finals two years ago. “I’ve played there with Adelaide United [at Japan 2008],” the giant centre-half told FIFA.com. “It’s a fantastic tournament to be involved in. Even for the younger players, it will be an amazing experience and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to the Club World Cup and play against the top five clubs in the world.”

Facts and figures
Former stars
Ko Jeong-Woon, Lee Sang-Yoon, Valeri Sarytchev, Shin Tae-Yong, Kim Sang-Sik, Sasa Drakulic, Mota

Key players
Jung Sung-Ryong, Cho Byung-Kuk, Sasa Ognenovski, Cheon Kwang-Jin, Mauricio Molina, Cho Dong-Geon, Dzenan Radoncic

Qualifying statistics
Seongnam qualified for the knock-out stage of the AFC Champions League as Group E winners after successive wins over Kawasaki Frontale, Melbourne Victory and Beijing Guoan. The Chunma then beat 2008 Asian champions Gamba Osaka 3-0 in the one-off round of 16 before eliminating compatriots Suwon Samsung Bluewings with a 4-3 aggregate win in the quarter-finals. In the last four, they recovered from a 4-3 defeat in the first leg against Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia to win 1-0 at home and advance on away goals. Seongnam then claimed their ticket to Abu Dhabi with a 3-1 victory over Zob Ahan of Iran in the final, which was held in Tokyo.

The numbers game
25 - Seongnam emerged as the top scorers in the 2010 AFC Champions League with 25 goals. Colombian playmaker Mauricio Molina finished as the side’s best individual marksman with seven.