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FA Cup Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Yongin City

After yet another late game collapse (their 5th this season), the Dragons return home and look to advance passed the 3rd Division's worst team, Yongin City, in the FA Cup. A win is expected and should provide a small confidence boost to head into the quarterfinals. A loss would be catastrophic to an already despondent team.

Jeonnam DragonsYongin City

Competition:KFA Cup

Date:Jun 22, 2016
Game Week:Round of 16
Venue:Gwangyang Stadium

Natural Sprinters

Much like Gimli, son of Glóin, the Dragons are natural sprinters. Very dangerous over short distances. They proved this by coming out of the gate strong against Sangju over the weekend and getting on the board with a tremendous individual play from Ahn Yong-woo. They also proved, however, that they're as equally wasted as the dwarf warrior over long distances. Yet again the Dragons clawed their way back into a game they really didn't belong in and let it slip away late. After having already lost to Seoul in the 93rd min, Gwangju in the 83rd min, Sangju in the 96th min, and Jeonbuk in the 92nd min, Jeonnam doubled down on the late heartbreak vs Sangju and conceded the match winner in the 87th minute to walk away with 0 points. As John Emanuelson and I discussed last month, these late game collapses almost always come down to a lack of focus, and they don't appear to be stopping any time soon.

The vast majority of the blame can be pegged squarely on the shoulders of the defense. In spite of his usually stable-ish performances, Lee Ho-seung should be raising a hand for the Sangju loss. The goals largely came from unaware defenders or amazingly poor lapses (such as two defenders whiffing on a clearance attempt on the 87th minute goal), but if asked Lee would likely want the first 2 back. Jeonnam still isn't exactly scoring in bunches, so if they're to have any hope of remaining in the top flight next season, they're going to have to bring in some reinforcements during the coming transfer window. Perhaps even a new goalkeeper... but more on that another time.

Squad Rotation

Wednesday night's FA Cup tie will see the Dragons playing their fourth match in 11 days with yet another coming this Saturday. With that many tired legs and an opponent that's two divisions beneath them, now is the time for Noh Sang-rae to rest the regulars and see what the bench brigade has to offer. For the love of the old Gods and the new, this should mean Cho Suk-jae finally gets a start. At this point in the season it's clear Noh simply doesn't rate him or there are locker room issues with the 26-year-old loanee from Jeonbuk. He's showed extremely well in his brief time on the field and with Jeonnam's offensive struggles it's an enigma how he hasn't seen the field more. Hopefully Wednesday night will bring an end to the wait. Additionally, we may finally see the offensive pairing I've been hoping for all season with Stevo potentially getting the start. A 4-4-2 with Cho and Stevo up top should be able to destroy a city team like Yongin, and I personally would love to see what the partnership has to offer.

If nothing else, this match may prove as a solid audition for some of the Jeonnam players that will be shopped in the coming transfer window. A list that may also include spurned goalkeeper Kim Min-sik, who should get the start after Lee Ho-seung's gone five in a row.

All We've Got

Aside from avoiding relegation (which is far from a guarantee this season), the Dragons virtually have nothing to look forward to this year. Aside from the FA Cup that is. Jeonnam are currently 19 points from league leading Jeonbuk, and 8 points from the top six and making the Championship Round. Championship Round is still possible, but anything beyond that is in snowball in hell territory. So any chance of silverware or respectability comes down to the FA Cup, and honestly Jeonnam has a puncher's chance. They should be able to take care of business Wednesday and move on the play the winner of FC Seoul vs Ansan Mugunghwa (so FC Seoul). With the reds still alive in AFC Champions League, it's unlikely they'll be putting their absolute all into the FA Cup and as Jeonnam proved in their 1-1 draw at Seoul last month, they can certainly hold their own against a slightly depleted Seoul side.

However, should Jeonnam pull defeat from the jaws of victory yet again and lose to the underdog Yongin, that may well be the nail in 2016's coffin. Sure this sounds melodramatic, but losing to Yongin would be hitting bottom in a way that previously seemed preposterous for a team grasping at any straws of hope. Losing to a National League side at home would be a morale blow the Dragons simply can't recover from. This is the doom and gloom scenario and one that almost certainly won't happen, but it'll definitely in the back of some minds in that dressing room come Wednesday night.

The Adversary

Yongin City currently sit in last place in the KFA's 3rd division National League. With a beggarly 6 points to their name in 2016, Yongin have cemented themselves in 10th place with the next nearest team having double their point total. Not overly dissimilar from the Dragons, wins have been at a premium for Yongin this year. The city team has only mustered 3 wins so far, but luckily for them 2 have come in the FA Cup. Luckily for Jeonnam, neither win was overly convincing. It took extra time for them to advanced passed Changwon City 1-0 in late April, and their shock win against National League leading Gangneung City required penalties to break the 1-1 deadlock. Still, in a knockout tournament a win is a win is a win, so Yongin doesn't care very much how they get them.

Given their propensity to grind out regular time and play for PKs, expect them to come out playing 10 men behind the ball, park the bus tactics that would make José Mourinho smile. Well... smirk anyway. Yongin have been shut out 4 times this year and have yet to score more than 2 goals, so they know offense won't be their saving grace against a much stronger Jeonnam side. They'll hunker down, deflect as much pressure as they can, and occasionally look to break on the counter like any good underdog would. However, they may well not even be able to counter due to the severe number of defenders they're likely to have on the field preventing them from getting any proper numbers forward. Basically, if Jeonnam can't break this team down early and take the lead before half time, it's going to be a long night for the home side... especially those in the stands.

Who To Watch

Of the 13 goals Yongin have managed to score this year, Hwang Chul-hwan has 4 of them. Now in his fifth National League campaign,  the 25-year-old attacker is having a decent rebound year. In 2014 he netted 10 times and helped the fantastically named Ulsan Hyundai Mipo Dockyard Dolphins win the National League title. Last season he switched over to Yongin, played 23 games, and netted only 4 times. Having already matched his season total from last year, he's undoubtedly aiming for more, and much like the Dragons bench-brigade he'll likely be using the FA Cup as an opportunity to show off for potential suitors.


For all the doom and gloom talk, the Dragons should walk away with this one quite easily. This should be a great opportunity for the younger players and those chained to the bench to stretch their legs and get some minutes in a game that actually counts.

Jeonnam Dragons 3-0 Yongin City

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