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Writer's Chat: Suwon Bluewings vs Pohang Steelers

Suwon and Pohang will face yet another hot and humid Wednesday night encounter this week when they meet for the 3rd time this season. And with both previous games ending in draws, both teams will be fighting tooth and nail to take home the season's bragging rights. Our Suwon columnist, Scott Whitelock, and our Pohang columnist, Josh Bulloch, discuss both teams inability to score goals and potential flash points in the game. 

Scott asks and Josh answers:

Scott: Pohang's main problem this season, as with Suwon, has been scoring goals. How do you rate this Pohang team as an attacking unit and what can they do to improve on their meager goal tally?

Josh: Well, relying on 1 player to score all the goals has really hurt this team. Yang Dong-hyun has got 10 goals that's 37% of Pohang's 27 goals the only other player in the league that has a higher contribtution percentage is Jung Jo-gook with 45% of Gwangju's goals and they are in 7th place but if you look at Jeonbuk they have many multi goal scorers. I've mentioned this many times the team needs structure every week it's a new lineup, Shim Dong-woon scored 4 goals in 8 games then on the 9th game he sat on the bench, his minutes cut and he hasn't scored since. It's been 3 matches since we've found the back of the net and only 5 goals in the last 6 matches. It can no longer be considered a slump. Pohang is now in panic mode and with Yang Dong-hyun collecting a yellow card over the weekend we may see Pohang go once again scoreless. Rating this offense is hard to do, which week should rate or which lineup. Until there is a structured lineup the drought will undoubtedly continue.

Scott: One player who has had a decent season has been Yang Dong-hyun, scoring 10 goals and one more goal will see him equal his best tally in one season. How do you rate his season and what can Suwon do to stop him adding to that tally?

Josh: Well luckily for Suwon you won't have to worry, with the yellow card Dong-hyun collected during the Jeonbuk match he is suspended for 1 game. He has had a good season but it could've been a great season if he was able to finish. He's probably missed more opportunities than he has goals scored. The one thing I'd have to say about his season is that he needs improvement.

Scott: With both teams playing in physically intense games, in sweltering heat at the weekend, do you think the 1 day extra rest and lack of traveling will benefit Suwon? And how will this Pohang team cope with the rigors of playing 2 games in 3 days in 30 degree heat?

Josh: In the months of March and April Pohang was playing in the AFC and had to play 3 or more games on short rest, the shortest rest being 4 games in 9 days with the last game against arguably the best team in Asia, Guangzhou Evergrande. Pohang's recorded 2 draws in the first 2 games  followed by 2 losses. So as you can see the traveling and the temperature will be a factor going into this game. Giving Suwon an advantage, but hopefully Pohang plays through it.

Scott: What is your prediction for the game?  

Josh: I'm only contracted to 3 questions so as much as I would like to give you my prediction it's out of my hands until my contract is amended.

Josh Asks and Scott answers:

Josh:  Suwon comes into this game only 3 points behind Pohang. How important is this game to Suwon?

Scott: With Suwon only sitting 4 points infront of Incheon in the relegation places, every game has become vitally important. Make no mistake about it, Suwon are fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table and no matter how big the name of the team is, no team has a divine right to stay in the top tier. The reality is finally starting to set in that Suwon could be Korea's answer to Aston Villa and Newcastle. It has been a dramatic fall from grace after narrowly finishing behind Jeonbuk in the league last year, but it is one that is fully merited after a season of half hearted performances and weak defensive displays.

July was a half decent month for Suwon taking 9 points out of a possible 18, and also reaching the semi finals of the FA Cup. But August has begun with a defeat and a draw, and so it is vital that Suwon look to take maximum points from their next two games (Pohang and Jeonnam, both at home). If they can take maximum points it would send a real statement of intent and heap huge pressure on Incheon and Suwon FC.

Josh: Every team has that one player who makes a 180 performance from the prior season and goes above and beyond expectations who is that player on Suwon?

Scott: Errrrrr, absolutely nobody has improved on their performances from last year. Every player that was a part of the squad hasn't managed anywhere near the heights of last year. So in that respect, they all did make a 180 degree turn, but in the complete wrong direction.

The surprise packages of the season have certainly been Kim Gun-hee, Lee Jung-soo and Koh Seung-beom. Kim Gun-hee, whilst being very inconsistent over the last 3 months, has shown in glimpses the potential that he has. With two great feet, superb hold-up skills and a neat burst of pace, I am expecting big things from him in the future.

Koh Seung-beom is also a new face straight out of university this season, and not a lot of people expected him to see any game time, but when he has played he has been very effective. An energetic, box-to-box midfield, you won't find many other players in the league with the ammount of stamina he possesses. His game time has been limited recently, but with the grueling schedule at the moment I would like to see him reintroduced.

Lee Jung-soo has been the one shining light in a pretty dismal season for Suwon. I will hold my hands up and say that I thought that we had signed an ageing donkey when he arrived from Al-Sadd in the winter, but he has been Suwon's best defender by a country mile. He reads play extremely well and his positional sense is second to none. He is very calm on the ball and also wins his fair share of aerial battles. It's just a shame that he hasn't had a consistent partner at centre back, otherwise Suwon could be much further up the table than they are.

Josh: Suwon has such a great reputation, 4 K League championships, 2 AFC Champions League trophies, and so many more accolades. What did previous teams do differently and what can the current Suwon team do to return to glory? 

Scott: Simply, the Suwon teams of yester-year were so successful because they had the financial backing of Samsung, one of Korea's biggest conglomerates. The team was well funded, and as well as signing a good standard of foreign player, they also recruited some of the best playing talent within Korea. However, in 2014 Samsung lost interest in all it's sporting ventures and offloaded the management of it's 4 teams (Samsung Lions [Baseball], Samsung Thunders[Basketball] and Samsung Bluefangs [Volleyball]) to the smaller advertising division of Samsung, Cheil Worldwide. Since then, Cheil Worldwide have significantly cut costs and key playing assetts have been offloaded at the club. In particular, last summer and winter saw the exits of  Cheong Tae-se, Jung Sung-ryong and Oh Beom-seok. The loss of those 3 big names, and the lack of replacements for them has been truly damaging. It's clear to see that the club is operating on a mid-level budget now and as such the years of success may be a long time in coming back to Suwon.

Josh: Your prediction for Suwon's win on Wednesday? Oops ummm what  I meant to say how do you think the game on Wednesday will end?

Scott: Well, as much as I would love a Suwon win, I really don't expect one. Suwon currently only have one fit striker (Kim Gun-hee) and he has only scored 1 league goal all season. Although Kim Jong-min is technically a striker, and he has come in and applied himself well in these last 2 games, he is not much of a finisher, as anybody who watched the Super Match last week can plainly see.

I think this game will see a lot of endeavor and desire, but in the end a lack of quality at either end will probably cost both teams and I think this game will result in a boring, goalless draw.

Score Prediction: 0-0 

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