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Writer's Chat: Daejeon Citizen Vs Busan IPark

Both Daejeon and Busan suffered the heartbreak of relegation last term after enduring torrid seasons.

Sunday sees the two sides meet for the first time since their fate was sealed last November. 

Accordingly, Daejeon correspondent Paul Neat sat down with Busan IPark aficionado Jae-hyeok Lee to discuss the forthcoming fixture.




Paul to Jae.

We talked before the season begun, assessing each team's chances and laying the ghost of the 2015 season to rest, have Busan played and lined up as you had expected? 

The line up has been roughly what I expected, but the play has definitely not been what I had expected (or hoped rather). Choi Young-joon has largely gone with the midfield I thought he would which is Lee Chung-woong as the holding midfielder and Lee Gyu-seong playing a bit higher up. Lee Yeong-jae and Daigo have rotated in the final midfield spot. I've been a bit disappointed not to see any of Kim Jin-kyu though as Choi Young-joon seems to not rate the youngster. Lee Won-young and Samuel have been regulars in defense and Cha Young-hwan and Kim Dae-ho seem to be firm Choi favorites. Attack has been a hodgepodge of rotation though.

Busan has, honestly, been much worse than I expected. I expected some hiccups and bumps given the large squad overhaul, but the play has been pretty poor overall. So much so, that I'm seriously questioning how much longer Busan should (in theory) stick with Choi Young-joon as manager.

You were excited by Busan's transfer activity in the winter break, how have Ko Gyeong-min, Stojanovic, and Lee Yeong-jae faired so far? Ko Gyeong-min seems to have hit the ground running.

I think the three mentioned have been decent. Lee Yeong-jae scored the only goal against Gangwon and has been a bright spot in midfield given his skill and attacking drive. Stojanovic has only started twice and has been okay. I don't think the way Busan has been playing (chasing long balls) has really fit him though. Ko Kyung-min has been okay. He started well, and has scored twice, but Choi has benched him the past couple matches, and he hasn't shown that spark from last season.

With the season well under way now, are there any personnel changes or tactical changes you would like to see made? Any particular area of the pitch you would strengthen?

Overall the whole team comes across as average. It's hard to pinpoint any one player or area that's done well. The attack is still flagging, the midfield can't control a match, and the defense still leaks goals. If I had to pick one area to strengthen it would probably be attack. Busan has scored in every game, but they're yet to score more than one in a match.

Tactically I think Choi has got it all wrong to be honest. He's trying to get them to press on defense and then quickly transition into attack via direct passes. The problem is that the press is so uneven that opposition teams can pass their way out fairly easily, and Busan ends up winning the ball deep, and then when they transition it ends up just being long passes for the forwards to chase. 
Busan would probably be better served playing a tighter, deeper defense and then either playing out from the back or countering. In either case Choi would need to do a better job with his player selection, as I find the team has been quite unbalanced recently (mainly the inclusion of Popp on the right wing).

Busan have been victorious in both their away games so far this season; 1-0 wins away to Gangwon and Goyang, can they make it three? With Daejeon's dismal run of form, surely another away win is merely a formality?

Certainly possible. Daejeon has struggled to say the least. However, Busan has yet to look entirely convincing in any match, so I wouldn't be shocked if they drew or lost. A win is expected, but Busan has developed a knack for failing to rise to the occasion, so...

As I eluded too early, Busan have won both their away games but have come up short at home. Do you think the Asiad's atmosphere has something to do with it? Does this just add more weight to your argument that Busan should perhaps play at the Gudeok?

No, I think the team is just average right now, and that is mainly due to Choi Young-joon's confused tactics and personnel selection. Also the two home games were against Ansan (currently 1st) and Seoul E-Land (currently 2nd) which is the other big factor I think.  In fairness to the club, they wanted to play at the Gudeok this season, but for various reasons (which I know not) it didn't come through (I suspect they have some deal with the city on using the Asiad). I wouldn't expect the atmosphere at the Gudeok to be that much better. 

Finally, from the outside looking in, how do you see Coach Choi Moon-sik's current predicament? At the time of writing he is still in a job but with protests planned ahead of Sundays game, surely his time is nearly up? 

On the face of things it would certainly seem that way. I suppose the key question is how much support he has in the dressing room. If the players are still with him, then he could stay a bit longer, but if results don't improve then there's only one answer.

Jae to Paul.
Daejeon has lost all four games thus far. Are you surprised by how badly the season has gotten off?

Certainly, I didn't expect Daejeon to be pulling up too many trees to begin with but, I did not expect four defeats on the trot with just one goal scored. I thought it may take a while for the team to gel, and that still may be the case, but I thought that Citizen would pick up a couple of wins in the process and show some promise. The team looks devoid of any confidence already, particularly when the manager is chopping and changing the team so drastically every week. Wielding the axe so freely  is a sign of a desperate man. It cannot be good for the players' confidence knowing that they will be dropped after one bad performance.

Hwang In-beom was a bright spot in last year's rather bleak season. Yet he has barely featured this season. Why is this? Is he injured?

I don't really understand why he hasn't been in the team. As far as I know he has been fit and ready to play. He was training right throughout pre-season following his leg break last year and looked ready to go. I know squad numbers don't mean an awful lot these days but he was given the number 6 shirt this season, surely that means he is in the manager's plans. He started last week but, Daejeon looked devoid of ideas and was somewhat isolated.

Choi Moon-sik wanted a short-passing game last season. Has he persisted with that this season?

He has indeed. It is commendable that he is so insistent on his team should look to out pass their opponents but something just isn't clicking. The Purples will pass  the ball around well enough but they lack that killer ball. They seem to be without that playmaker who can dictate the play or, perhaps it is just a case of the team still bedding in. Kim Byung-suk has been playing rather deep, which I expected him to do to an extent, but I don't think he has been able to impose himself on games as much as he would have liked. Choi Moon-sik will persist with his passing game until he is either fired or he decides to resign.

Is it too early to call doom and gloom for Daejeon's promotion hopes or is there still a (realistic) chance of turning it around?

Realistically, under Choi Moon-sik, Daejeon cannot and will not be promoted this season. At least that is how it is looking at present. Outside that bracket of the realistic automatic promotion contenders; the Daegus, Seoul E-Lands and such, there isn't a lot between those chasing the playoffs and those languishing in midtable. Thus, I don't think a push for the playoffs is completely out of the the question but it is imperative that if Daejeon are to turn things right round they need to do so extremely quickly. A win on Sunday would make things seem a little less bleak.

Thoughts and predictions for the game.

I shall think positively and go for a draw. Having collapsed so easily against Bucheon last week Choi will be looking for a reaction. How Daejeon perform on Sunday will be an indicator as to whether or not the manager still has the players' backing. I am predicting a 0-0 draw with Daejeon sitting deep and trying to hit Busan on the counter. Perhaps we will see Wanderson played in a more advanced position trying to get in behind.

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