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playoffs

Gyeongnam FC vs. Gangwon FC : Round 1 Preview

Overview

Opening day..... shirts vs. skins (Source: Gyeongnam FC)

After a rather torrid offseason for Gyeongnam the Kleague Challenge finally kicks off on an equal footing.....or rather, for everyone else it does but for Gyeongnam they start off with a negative ten point penalty due to some match-fixing shenanigans from seasons past. To overcome this Gyeongnam are handed a rather tasty home opener at the beautiful Changwon Football Stadium against Gangwon, who had their own problems in the offseason with the club threatened with winding-up by their own provincial government. Sounds familiar if you are a Gyeongnam fan with their owners, the Gyeongnam provincial government threatening the same thing as well, so both teams have some motivation to prove their critics wrong in this tasty opening contest. Especially, for Gyeongnam, they need to make a fast start to wipe out that ten point disadvantage so a home win here over an unfancied opponent is vital to set the tempo for the season.

Gyeongnam team news

New coach Kim Jong-Boo praying to the gods for an opening day win (Source: Gyeongnam province)
New manager Kim Jong-boo has said he will set out a 4-4-2 in the opening game in the hope of a more attacking line-up than what Gyeongnam displayed last year. That's great news for fans who want to see the new attacking transfers on display, especially ex-Chinese first division top scorer Christian Danalache and attacking Korean forward Lee Sang-Hyup (look to the Gyeongnam season preview on this site for more details of this new attacking focus). The manager has said that the goal for this season is to make the playoffs which involves finishing in a top four position. It seems he plans to do this by blasting the opposition away with a goal attack. Hopefully the stonewall defence of last season continues in the same way. Players to watch include the aforementioned Danalache (9) and Lee Sang-hyup (10) as well as defender Lee Won-jae (5) and midfielder Lim Chang-goon (19).

Don't discount Gangwon

New signing Pacheco with a glare to frighten opposing defences (Source: GangwonFC
While Gyeongnam have been recruiting a rather interesting  foreign prospect up front in Danalache, Gangwon have also gone out and grabbed someone who has the potential to make a massive impact this season as well and probably stands out as the biggest off-season recruit in the Challenge at midfield. He comes in the form of ex-Mexican team attacking midfielder Edgar Pacheco (9). I can't recall any Mexicans ever having played in the Kleague so will be interesting to see what mark he leaves and whether he can unlock the Kleague defences. Quite sure how he ended up at Gangwon is a mystery but one that could be a pleasure to watch for the Gangwon fans as the season progresses. If one thing they did well last year was to score goals so he should only add to their firepower. He gets his first chance to show what he has got this weekend in Changwon and Gyeongnam will need to contain him to ensure they come out of this game with a victory.

Gyeongnam vs. Gangwon history


If last season is any indication it could be a dull affair with the four contests between the two teams in 2015 only producing 3 goals in 4 games including two 0-0 draws which were both played in Changwon. Only one game produced a winner, a late Gyeongnam goal in the first game in Gangwon early last season. Hopefully the new attacking personnel for both sides produces a more thrilling contest. Historically, at home Gyeongnam have struggled winning only once against Gangwon in the league in eight contests way back in Gangwon's opening season in 2009. Hopefully the home team can get over this jinx and bring home an opening round win.

Prediction (Gyeongnam 2 - Gangwon 1)


Opening round of the season usually produces a bit of action. Coupled with that the addition of exciting attacking talent for both teams and the extra motivation to prove to their owners that it is worth funding a provincial football club and you have all the ingredients for a goalfest (hopefully). In front of what could be a decent opening days crowd on a beautiful day you would just have to give it to the home side. Gyeongnam to open their account and finish the first round on minus seven points.

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