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Writer's Chat: Ansan Mugunghwa Vs Daejeon Citizen

Two season's ago, when Daejeon were crowned K League Challenge winners, Ansan ran the Purples close; finishing second and even dismantled what was then Cho Jin-Ho's side in a 6-1 hammering in the spring of that year.  After a somewhat uninspiring season last year, Ansan are exceeding many people's expectations by leading the way as we enter the half way point of the season.

Daejeon, meanwhile, endured a torrid time in the Classic last term and after a slow start this term, are beginning to find their feet. Monday evening see's the two sides go head-to-head when Daejeon make the trip north the Wa~. Accordingly, Daejeon correspondent Paul Neat sat down with Ansan reporter Kyle Gobler to preview Monday's game.

Paul Asks, Kyle Answers

Paul Neat: When we talked earlier in the season we remarked at how Ansan were defying people's expectations by being at the business end of the table and yet they're still there with half the season gone. Is this your year?

Kyle Gobler: Yes, Ansan has the depth this year to continue the path to promotion and I would say are the favourites to win the league. It is almost a completely different roster from last season. A month ago I was still pinching myself and wasn’t ready to believe it but Ansan haven’t backed down. There is a real “now or never” feeling in Ansan, this is our year.

PN: In 2014 Ansan and Daejeon fought long and hard for the K League Challenge title with Ansan having to settle for a playoff place in the end. That was the last time that Ansan had what you could describe as a positive season, what is different about this crop of players that makes you think you can go all the way? Is there anyone from that team that you wish still played for Ansan?

KG: The 2014 season was previously the best in Ansan’s history and 2015 one of the worst. This year Ansan has depth, which in the past the team has lacked. The Police have out shot almost every team they have played and scored at a rate I could not have imagined with last year’s team. The average squad age is just over 27 years of age which points to some veteran leadership. This year as opposed to last, I have seen Ansan stick with their tactics and not get shaken in big games or under pressure. Last year if Ansan conceded we assumed that was it as there was very little going forward and the coaches seemed more concerned with not conceding a second. There was very little faith in the attack.

PN: Tactically, how have Ansan been playing this season and how do you think they will set up on Monday?

KG: Ansan is a fun attacking team to watch and are better defensively than last year as well. They’ll come out in a 4-2-3-1 we’ve seen recently. We’ve seen more recent squad rotation from coach Lee Heung-Sil but I expect to see a similar squad to what we saw in Daegu. Kim Eun-Seon and Shin Hyung-Min have been alternating the captain’s armband and Kim Jun-Yup has started at both right midfield and right back. Gong Min-Hyun has been a terror to opposing defences and I have no doubt he’ll start up top.

PN: Finally, it was a narrow 1-0 win for Ansan last time, but what are you expecting come Monday? 

KG: I would predict Ansan to win at home. Not putting a score on it though.


Kyle Asks, Paul Answers

Kyle Gobler: Daejeon started the season poorly but has been in great form since the start of May, any major changes behind this? What is needed to continue?

Paul Neat: It's somewhat ironic, actually, because I think one of the main reasons why Daejeon have looked much better recently is because of Spanish-born Philippines international centre back Alvaro Silva, a player who won't be here much longer. He was deemed surplus to requirements by Choi Moon-Sik, for reasons unbeknown to anyone, but since his reinstatement, Daejeon have looked much more solid at the back. He has built a really formidable partnership with Jean-Claude Bozga and as a result Daejeon have had a solid foundation to build upon. What's ironic about it, however, is the fact that Alvaro's deal runs out in a few weeks so he will be leaving and his departure will most likely be the reason Daejeon's good form tails off.

KG: Who are the key players for Daejeon in this matchup? Do you see anyone helping out Kim Dong-Chan up front?

PN: Aside from Kim Dong-Chan, the Brazilian magician Gustavo Sauerbeck is someone to be wary of. If you saw his goal against Bucheon on Wednesday, you'll see that he has it all. He's skillful, a good finisher, he can pick out a pass and, given his stature, is a physical presence too.. He is just beginning to find his feet and is looking like a real asset to the team.

KG: Where do you see Daejeon in the table at the end of the season?

PN: Before the news broke about the aforementioned departure Alvaro Silva leaving, in addition to Wanderson, I would have predicted that Daejeon would be on course for a playoff place. However, unless the manager has targets in mind to replace these two influential players, I don't see Daejeon finishing any higher than lower-mid table, which would be a shame as things just started to look promising for them.

KG: What are Daejeon’s chances against the Police? 

PN: Good, I think. Two league wins on the spin and unbeaten in five, Daejeon will be full of confidence so I think it will be a very interesting game. I think it will be a draw but in truth but it really could go either way.

Ansan Mugungwha versus Daejeon Citizen will take place on Monday 4th July 2016 at 7:30 pm KST.

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