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Writer's Chat: Daegu v Seoul E-Land


 As the K-League Challenge reaches it's end the prizes are still balanced on a knife-edge. This weekend two of the teams competing at the business end face off with Daegu hosting Seoul E-Land. With the elimination of Ansan from the promotion question Daegu are now in pole position to take the automatic place in the Classic while E-Land still have a chance of snatching the final play-off place from the grasp of Busan. Our Daegu correspondent Jung Mu-yeol and E-Land writer Steve Waddell met up to discuss the prospects for both sides.

Steve Asks, Mu-yeol answers:

SWAt the moment Daegu are in the lead to be promoted now that we know Ansan will not go up. I haven't seen much of Daegu this season but do you think you will go to the Classic next season?

JMY: I am very cautious to predict because last season we fell down at the last hurdle and it was been a bitter pill to swallow. Even though we have extended our unbeaten record to 9 games, I can’t be absolutely sure as we have been pretty bad at home with merely 5 wins from 17 matches, while we have 12 wins from 19 away games.
We have three home games to play and one away journey to Gyeongnam left.

SWJonathan was a key man last season but his replacement Paulo Sergio seems to have been a good replacement. Tell me more about him and what is Daegu's secret for finding good Brazilians?

JMY: I must admit Jonathan was a fantastic player last season but Paulo is also great. However, I would say, Paulo is completely different from Jonathan in his playing style. Jonathan likes playing counter-attack and sneaking around behind defenders. His strength was not only speed and agility but powerful and precise shooting from anywhere. In contrast to him, Paulo is more sensitive and technical. I would compare him to Bulgarian international Dimitar Berbatov. His shot is not as powerful as Jonathan but he’s sharp as a tack and precise as a computer. His timing of shots is excellent. Moreover, he is very good at co-operating and linking up with his colleagues.

There’s no secret for finding decent Brazilians. We have had our fair share of not so good Brazilians a few years ago. But I would say the reason our Brazilians looks better is the harmony within the squad and the existence of good assistants, including a Brazilian coach, Andre, who has experienced K- League as a player. He played with our interim manager, Son Hyun-jun at Anyang under the regime of our chairman, Cho Kwang-rae. It might be one reason to help explain why the Brazilians are fitting in well at Daegu.

SWDaegu's key men seem to be the Brazilian imports but they also have quite a few young Korean players in the squad. Are there any we should look out for who have a lot of potential?

JMY: Cho Kwang-rae has made a priority of developing young players at Daegu. He has trawled through all the young players in Korea and promised to teach them with his discipline. It is also him who insisted on the revival of the Reserve League. He already tasted success by doing this kind of project in Gyeongnam. Daejeon striker Kim Dong-chan, Shanghai defender Kim Ju-young, Yanbian midfielder Yun Bit Ga-ram all came through under his system.

In our squad, defender Hong Jung-woon, right full-back Park Se-jin are very young, but have played a major role in our success. Additionally, Park Han-bin and Kim Dae-won are very promising in the near future.
 
SWDaegu had a pretty bad August but seem to have bounced back and are on a great run of form. Do you think they can keep that going with 4 tough games coming up starting with E-Land?

JMY: I don’t know. Only time will tell. We have three home games out of four to finish the season so that might look positive but I think it will be not so easy. We will host Seoul E-land, Bucheon and Daejeon at home and travel to Gyeongnam. It was Bucheon who tripped us up and deterred us from becoming a champion at the final round last season. Furthermore we didn’t have a great result at Changwon. So it’s hard to be certain, although the fans are definitely excited.

SWOne of the biggest problems in Daegu is the lack of fans. There were less than 1000 people at your last home game in a city of 2.5m and watching games in the WC Stadium is pretty horrible when the crowd is so small. Why do you think the people of Daegu don't get behind the team and is there anything that can be done to improve things? Would promotion to the Classic help get the crowds back?   

JMY: It’s a shame we did have such a small number of spectators this season. Our crowd last season was not as small as this year. However, this year the average number of fans dropped down under one thousand, the reason must be poor performance at home and disappointing result from last season. The staff and crew who volunteer to help match preparations and advertising made huge efforts to get fans back, but it didn’t pay off much.

I am sure the answer can only be great results and promotion to the top division. Last year, towards the end of the regular season, the better the results were, the more fans were coming to the stadium, even very old fans who had maybe stopped coming a while ago. So I strongly believe coming back to the Classic will bring about a renaissance for Daegu FC.

Mu-yeol Asks, Steve answers:

JMY:     E Land has bounced back with 2 wins in a row, beating Daejeon and Gyeongnam. Joo Min-kyu has started tasting goals again but it seems critical to me that Tarabai (9 goals from 35 appearances) and Choi Oh-baek(2 goals from 15 appearances) are suspended for this next match. How would it affect both sides? And which players do you think Daegu should be wary of?
 
SW: It’s been good to see E-Land showing a bit of life in recent weeks. The fact that 5th place will be enough for a play-off has certainly given them something to focus on and Joo’s rebirth has made a huge difference to results.

Tarabai will be a big miss for us, not just as a goalscorer but also his workrate up front always keeps defenders unsettled. Quite often he is the creator for Joo either with an assist or by creating space for him to play in. Choi I don’t think will be as big as loss.

We do have quite a few forward options with Seo Jung-jin and Yoo Chang-hyun able to play up front. I imagine Ahn Tae-Hyun will take Choi’s place and he’s a young player I really like. He’s not a prolific scorer with only 3 so far this season but his running with the ball and overall effort are generally excellent.

Joo is obviously the man to watch for goals and with those other guys missing he will be absolutely key. If he is closed down then we might have to rely on set-pieces for a goal threat and the physical presence of Carlyle Mitchell might be something we could look to use.
 

JMY:   In all 7 previous matches between us, Daegu has never been beaten by E-land. What do you think the reason might be?

SW:It’s a bit of an odd one as the matches have been close encounters generally. Of course, Daegu have been probably the most consistently strong team in the Challenge for the past two seasons so it’s always going to be a tough game against them. We definitely should have won our first meeting when Lee Jae-An was sent off for no reason and Daegu’s Noh Byung-jun scored in the 7th minute of injury time to equalise in a game that had no real stoppages.

Daegu have scored 3 times against us in injury time to either take a point or win so it will be important that we play for the full 90 minutes and don’t let our concentration slip. We also need to show some self-belief that we can travel to Daegu and win the game. Sometimes I get the impression with E-Land that in these bigger games they are happy to play for a draw but really draws are no good to us at this stage.
 

JMY: With 4 games left to play, Seoul Eland ranks 6th place, behind Busan in 5th who have 3 games to play. The possibility looks quite slim but it
s still possible to secure a play-off. Moreover, Seoul will host Busan in the final round of the regular season. So given the circumstances, this match should be very paramount to both sides, how do you think E-land should be prepared and approach the rest of games?

SW: Aside from the Daegu game, E-Land have away trips to Goyang and Chungju, the two bottom teams, coming up before the Busan game. Whereas Busan have a couple of tricky ties against Gangwon and Bucheon, albeit two home games.

We are 6 points behind with a game in hand but we have two very winnable matches coming up after the weekend. We really need to aim to win all 4 of our remaining matches to grab that last play-off place. We also need to score goals to catch up on Busan in the very realistic event that we finish level on points. The most important thing is that we need to give ourselves a chance against Busan by getting the points from the next three games first.

A draw against Daegu might just be enough but we would be looking for other teams to help us out then. Anything less than 6 points against Chungju and Goyang and we really don’t deserve the play-off place given our form against those two sides this season.

It would be great to set up a play-off decider against Busan at Jamsil on the final day. What a match that would be! 


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