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Writers' Chat: Gyeongnam FC Vs Daejeon Citizen

Gyeongnam FCDaejeon Citizen

Competition:K League Challenge

Date:Mar 26, 2017
Game Week:Round 4
Venue:Changwon Football Center

This Sunday afternoon sees Daejeon Citizen make the long trip to Gyeongsangnam Province to take on a, thus far, unbeaten Gyeongnam FC, one of the K League Challenge's promotion favourites.

Former Gyeongnam assistant manager Lee Youngik will take his Daejeon Citizen side to Changwon for the first time since his appointment at Purple Arena in the winter, with an attack lead by two former Gyeongnam men in Cristian Danalache and Lee Hoseok.

Ahead of Sundays encounter our Daejeon Citizen columnist had a chat with K League United's Gyeongnam expert James Edrupt to discuss Sunday's clash.

Paul asks James

Gyeongnam would have been in the playoff mix last year had it not had been for the points deduction, can Gyeongnam go all the way this year? Even with such a strong league?

The league this season is probably the hardest to predict in many a year.  The early whipping boys however have been FC Anyang.  Apart from them at the moment,  anyone can beat anyone I feel on any given day.  In terms of what we can bring to the table this season, I am quietly optimistic this campaign; early signs have been very promising.  We have a very young, energetic team in general, with a few experienced campaigners around the camp to keep them grounded somewhat.  

We have had 3 tough opening fixtures in Asan, Seoul E-Land and most recently Busan IPark.  We beat Asan 1-0 quite easily in the end and we dominated Seoul E-Land for the majority of the game up there and beat them 1-0 with a late goal.   Just last weekend we battled superbly well to pick up a good point away at Busan, who probably have the most quality within their squad in this league.  So an away point at their place is no mean feat.  We will be there or there abouts I am certain come October.  Can we get over the line though, and get promoted?  Only time will tell, but initial thoughts in around the club are good.  Long may it continue.

Gyeongnam lost Lee Hoseok, the league's leading assist maker, and Cristian Danalache, the league's second highest scorer, to Daejeon so you'll know all about them. Are you worried that they will come back to haunt Gyeongnam? What kind of reception do you think they will get at Changwon?

Without question losing Cristian and Hoseok was a huge loss for us, as they were an integral part of our starting 11 last season and most of our attacking threats came through these two players.  With them gone we have been weakened, of course.  However the management staff and scouts have acted quickly and have signed two kind of like-for-like players in Marcao and Bruno, both Brazilian players.  Marcao is a big gangly striker, similar to Cristian and Bruno slots in just behind the big man buzzing around the park like Hoseok used to do.  Marcao has hit the ground running and scored on his debut versus Asan and has played well in the two other games as well holding the ball up brilliantly and winning most things in the air.  He must be a nightmare to defend against.  

Bruno on the other hand is still finding his feet.  He had his best game in a Gyeongnam shirt however last weekend against IPark so let's hope he continues in his rich vein of form.  Hopefully the boys will know both their style of play and mark them out of the game.  Hoseok has 3 goals in 3 games.  He is always a threat running off the shoulder of defenders.  If Cristian plays it should be a great battle between him and Park Jisoo.  A real no nonsense defender who heads everything in and around the box.  Interesting battles all over the park in the game this Sunday.  We as fans have no hard feelings on why they both left the club.  They were offered better contracts at Daejeon, simple.  We move on.

Who should Daejeon be wary of, who are your new danger men?

Our big man up top Marcao is the simple answer.  Slotted into the team like a dream and links up play with our energetic midfielders so well.  Got a good touch for a big man and is great in the air.  He literally is a man mountain.  Our number 24 Sung Hyuncheol, as well.  He will go onto big and better things I am certain of it is  a mainstay in the centre of the park for us and a great player.  Postionally brilliant, he seems to be always be in the right place at the right time.  Our Kante if you will.  He weighs in with the odd goal from midfield too.

How can we expect Gyeongnam to line up tactics and formation wise? Daejeon manager Lee Youngik was the assistant at Gyeongnam last year, do you think there will be a change in approach to try to counter any knowledge that Lee has? 

4-4-1-1.  It's been our formation for opening 3 games and it's worked.  Our manager is very attacking minded, and he won't change it in my mind.  Why change something that isn't broken?  We will definitely try and man mark Cristian out of the game as he is the focal point of Daejeon's attack.  For sure your gaffer will know a few tricks of the trade on what we have in the locker throughout our side.  We have to be clever and just play our normal game.  

Are there any injuries or suspensions?

Our captain Ki Jeongbae was missing versus Busan last weekend.  I asked around the supporters at the game and no one seemed to know why he wasn't playing.  He is vital to what we do on the pitch and it's a huge loss when he doesn't play.  We lost our shape towards the end of the Busan game down his side of the pitch.  Luckily we managed to hold on.   Apart from him, we are at full strength.

Finally, predictions - what do you think the score will be?

It'll be close. The battle of the two big men up front.  I am going to go with a narrow 1-0 win to Gyeongnam. 

Although recent games between us have been goal fests.  Clearly remember a mad 4-4 result at our place over in Yangsan last season! We haven't scored more than 1 goal in our opening 3 games and I don't see this trend being broken.  If there is a concern, it's this;  our lack of taking chances.  We create enough, just got to be more clinical in front of goal.  Which in this talented team, it'll come!

James asks Paul

Daejeon have had an indifferent start to the campaign, with a win, draw and a loss respectively.  How have you felt the side are coming along at the early stage of the season?

Daejeon are coming along fairly well, I feel. I was disappointed with the performance against Ansan Greeners; I thought the midfield was non-existent and the back four were very shaky. Since then, Citizen have picked up four points from six in a home double-header after a draw with Seongnam and a win over E-Land. In both of those games, Daejeon created a lot of chances and could have put been out of sight, the Seongnam game especially. The chances are being created, once the team gel I am fairly confident things will click into place. 

You can thank me later for the signings of Cristian Danalache and Lee Heoseok!  How have they looked so far in a somewhat changed Daejeon team from last season?

Lee Hoseok in particular has been impressive, he is very direct and possesses good technique. Such attributes have enabled him to score in all three of Daejeon's league games thus far. As for Cristian, he likes to come deep and it's almost as if he likes to start the move and then try to finish it off. At present there's only Lee Hoseok who seems to know how to read Cristian's game, clearly they have great chemistry together and so I am really excited to see how the season pans out with them two spearheading Daejeon's attack.

You have our 1st team coach as your man at the helm now at Daejeon?  Have you been impressed with how he has settled in?  You have had a bit of merry go round with managers over the years.  You hoping he can stay with you for many years to come?

He comes across as a man who doesn't accept mediocrity. After the opening day defeat to Ansan he wasn't afraid to wield the axe, dropping the goalkeeper and adjusting the back four as well as changing things in midfield. He will know exactly how to get the best out of Lee Hoseok and Cristian so hopefully he can build a team around those two which gets Daejeon promoted. As you say, Citizen have lacked continuity in recent years with manager changes, if the Purples start the season strongly then it will lay the foundations for the rest of the season. All Coach Lee needs to do is get Daejeon into the mix, as long as this season is seen as progress then he will have improved on his predecessor Choi Moonsik.

You lost undoubtably the best player in the K League Challenge, Kim Dongchan to the Thai league in the pre-season.  It'll always be hard to replace someone of that quality, but do you think you have enough to replace him and mount a serious push for promotion this season?

Losing Kim Dongchan was a big blow but it wasn't a surprise as he had plenty of suitors having lead the scoring charts in the Challenge last year. What was a surprise that he went to Thailand, not disrespect to the Thai team or the league but I thought he could have got a move to a Classic side or a side like Seongnam or Busan, one of the outright favourites to win the Challenge. With Cristian Danalache we, on paper, have replaced him well but he's 34, Citizen won't get much more than a year or two out of him. The rest of the squad is strong and so I feel Daejeon have a good chance to push for promotion, most likely via the playoffs.

Any injuries and suspensions for the boys in purple?

The manager has a more or less full squad to choose from with the exception of Georgian winger Levan who went off injured during the 1-1 draw with Seongnam. The injury isn't thought to be serious but will probably be enough to be a doubt for Sunday.

Prediction for the game.

A draw would be a very good result for Citizen, and perhaps the most likely. I will go for 1-1 with Daejeon to score first.

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