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Writers Chat: Jeju United vs. FC Seoul Preview

I Ask, He Answers

John EmanuelsonDid you expect Jeju to make the championship playoff?  How exciting was it when they nipped Incheon for the final spot by beating Jeonbuk 3-2?

Duncan Elder: I don't think there was ever a stage where we thought there was no chance of making the top six, it was just a case of putting some results together and hoping the teams above us would slip up. Going into the last game everyone knew what was required, although of course to win in such a dramatic fashion was very exciting. The problem of course was that only just entering the top six meant we were quite far behind the other teams in the top half and 6th is really the highest we can hope for.

JEFor a bit, it seemed like Jeju’s defense was bleeding goals.  Since August though, it seems as they have been better.  What has improved?

DE: First the manager changed the way we played. We are still an attacking team, but not to the extent that it comes to the detriment of our overall game-play. The summer signing of Baek Dong Gyu also gave Oh Beom Seok a decent partner while Alex was injured and the two of them seem to play well together. The biggest question mark is what the manager will do with Alex now he is back. He is obviously one of our best players and also probably the best CB but due to Oh and Baek's form the manager hasn't wanted to split the two of them up. This has resulted in Alex played at DM where he has done well, but I think we would be better (and he would probably prefer it) if he played at CB. 

JE: Who has been Jeju’s best player this season? 

DE: Lopes has been great all season and has contributed to many of our goals, he is a very good and confident dribbler which sees him create a lot of chances. He also pressures our opponents’ defences a lot and is quick and direct on the counter. Basically he has been perfect for our style of play this year! I really hope we can keep him for next year.

JEHow do you feel about Jeju’s prospects next year?  Where will they need to improve?

DE: I think with a year of experience under his belt Jo Sung Hwan will be in a better position to lead the team into the higher parts of the table. Assuming the squad stays at  a similar level I think his experience could be worth a few points/places in the league although possibly not enough to reach the ACL simply due to the strength of the other teams in the league. One thing we need is a striker who scores more goals if we want to be challenging higher up the table. I expect Karanga to keep improving and his style seems to fit in with the way we play so I think sticking with him would be a fine choice. Kim Hyun has shown improvements too this year and added a bit of aggression to his game, perhaps due to the constant running of the players around him. If we can keep Alex, Lopes and Yoon Bit-Garam we should be fine!

JE: How do you expect the match to go?

DE: Jeju beat Seoul for the first time in years in the last game, and we certainly have a chance again this time. Seoul are in very good form at the moment though so will be hard to beat. Both teams have good attacks so I'll go for a score draw.

(Memories from 2010- jejuweekly.com)

He Asks, I Answer

Duncan ElderAfter their FA cup win Seoul are already guaranteed an ACL spot. Do you think they will still be motivated to get third place?

John Emanuelson: Even though they have wrapped up their ACL spot, I do think they will be motivated to finish in third.  The reason I think they will is because I would like to think that as professional players they would want to do as well as they can.  Also, I think several of the players will want to show the coach that they are worthy of a spot next year or that they should have received more time on the pitch this year.  

For this game, I expect Choi Yong-soo to go with a lot of players who have not been regulars this year, so those players will want to show something and that should be sufficient reason for Seoul to continue to gain points.   Finally, by finishing in third it will allow Seoul to leap frog their main rival Suwon and stick it in the face of critics such as myself.  All year, I have been banging on about how poor Seoul have been, so to win the FA Cup and finish in third would be quite an accomplishment. 

DE: Both Jeju and Seoul have some very important foreign players, what do you think they add to the team/league?

JE: As far as Seoul's foreign players go, I think they fill in the gaps for whatever the team lacks. Molina, obviously, provides the play-making and vision to split the defense open with a pass.  Adriano's biggest skill is that he can score goals, which sounds simplistic, but Seoul have been lacking that player since Dejan left in 2013.  Finally, Osmar, through his intelligence and positional play, helps clean up the the mistakes the defense makes and helps to link the defense and offense.  I would say that he he has been their most important player this year and if he leaves at the end of the year, I can't see how Seoul will replace him.  

As far as the league goes, I guess they add flair, grit, and different ideas on how to play the game.  I think it depends on the team and what they need of course.  I am sure that with the older foreign players especially, they might impart the knowledge on how to strike the ball, where to position one’s self, and to maybe feel more free in taking risks. I am sure that in turn, influences the rest of their teammates. 

Of course, much of this answer is based on what I have read about Korea before the 2002 World Cup.  Right now, the K-League seems to be very defensive and risk averse (the league averages 1.19 goals a game), but I think that is down to coaching.  No one wants to get caught out and look foolish.  I don't think Korean players are as conservative as the stereotype suggests.  I think as more Koreans travel to play abroad, the style of play in Korea will change as well.  

I guess the cliches about multiculturalism and what each individual brings from his or her culture are applicable to here.  It helps change the homogeneity of the team/society and make things much more interesting.  Korea, whether it is through more foreigners living here or Koreans going abroad, has changed so much since I came.  

Fashion seems a lot more risque-  everyone is dying their hair, getting multiple piercings, visible tattoos, etc.  Women smoke in public much more frequently, but public smoking is frowned upon and there is no more lighting up in bars or clubs.  There are so many more foreign food options besides pizza, hamburgers, and fried chicken.   

Personally, I think it is great.  I guess if you are Park Geun-hye or some other stodgy, misanthropic curmudgeon who sits around bemoaning how those were the days, then it is probably a sign of the apocalypse.  However, the dinosaurs went extinct and hopefully, the social conservatives will as well.  

Damn, I just went off topic.  Sorry, but this was a difficult question to answer.  I tried not to resort to generalizations but I think I failed on that note.  I guess what I was trying to say is that they add new ideas, which is always a good thing.  

DEJeju beat Seoul for the first time in years in the last game between the sides. What will the manager do to get back to winning ways?

JE: Seoul sat back and let Jeju run at them and all of the players, with the exception of maybe Adriano, were poor that afternoon. I thought that Choi Yong-soo was a bit too conservative in the first half of that game, but that seems to be the S.O.P. when away from home for most K-League managers these days.  I just think the players did not have it that game and unlike in years past, they could not find it when needed nor get a lucky result against Jeju this time out.  

On Saturday, I feel as though Choi should do what he did against Jeju in July.  He changed the formation and rotated players, bringing in Molina, Everton, Yun Il-lok, Sim Sang-min, and Lee Sang-hyeob for Jung Jo-gook, Koh Myong-jin, Go Yo-han, Kim Chi-woo, and Park Yong-woo.  Subsequently, they were brilliant that game. 

Rather than sit back and absorb pressure, looking to snatch the points in the second half, Choi had the team goes balls out and attack Jeju's defense.  They scored early and it was their best game, up to that point, of an otherwise miserable year.  

DEWhat can Jeju fans expect from Seoul this weekend? Who should they look out for most?

JE: I am terrible at predicting how Seoul will perform in a game.  When I big them up, they are awful and lose.  When I forecast gloom and doom, like I did in the FA Cup final and the Super Match two weeks ago, they play a scintillating brand of football and look world class (for the K-League).  

Therefore, I can't say what Jeju fans should expect.  I would say they should expect a better performance from Seoul than the one they witnessed at the end of August.  After that, who knows.  

As far as players, the one that Jeju should guard against is Yun Ju-tae (if he is selected).  Having scored four goals, all of quality as well, his confidence should be quite high at this point.  He deserves another start and if he gets it, I think he will see his name on the score sheet.   

DE: Finally how do you see this weekend’s match playing out?

JE: Since neither team really has anything to play for other than pride, I think this might be a bit like an all-star game.  The game will be wide open and hopefully cynical play will be at a minimum.  I think both teams will score goals and it will end in a draw at three apiece.  

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