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Writers' Chat : Daegu FC vs Jeonnam Dragons

The international break has come to an end and the fifth round of K League will kick off this weekend. This Sunday two winless teams, Daegu and Jeonman, will fight over their first 3 points this season at Daegu Stadium. Here, our Daegu columnist, Muyeol Jung, and our new Jeonnam columnist, Aodan Halligan, discuss both teams and give their predictions.

Muyeol asks and Aodan Answers
Muyeol Jung: The Jeonnam Dragons are currently lying at the bottom of the table with no points. However, on paper you don’t look bad at all, so you probably should have registered better results than you have up until now. What has happened? What’s been the problem this season?

Aodan Halligan: I think it’s down to a number of factors, most of which were mentioned last week. To begin with, we started the season with some key players either injured or lacking match fitness – our Croatian midfielder Jugovic and our Brazilian number ten Jair, to name but a few. Plus, the 3-4-3 formation our manager has been using isn’t working. We’ve lost all four games this season and we’re conceding far too many goals. 10 goals in four games is too much and some of the defending against the Pohang Steelers last weekend was embarrassing to be honest. At this stage, if we include the end of last season, we haven’t won in our last eight K-league games. That’s relegation form. At home, we’re seeing lots of the ball, but we lack organisation once we lose possession. On the road, we’ve been more solid at the back because we’ve been sitting deeper, in a 5-3-2, if you like, as our wing backs have been pushed right back. And with another away game in store this weekend, we need to stay tight at the back and take our chances at the other end.

MJ: Do you think your manager, Noh Sang-rae, is under a lot of pressure from the board? How about the fans?

AH: To tell you the truth, I thought we had a good season last season, up until the last month or two and that’s probably bought Noh Sang-rae some breathing space. And the board have shown quite a lot of patience in the past. Remember, we started poorly last season too, so I think Noh has their backing for the moment. As for the fans, they haven’t been too vocal in their criticism. But if we keep all our players on the pitch this time (Lee Ji-nam, received a red card against Pohang last time out) and go down without a fight, the atmosphere around the club will change. On the other hand, an away win versus Daegu could push us up to ninth and a win in our next away game against fellow strugglers Incheon could see us sitting midtable and relieve all the pressure on Noh. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we need to get our first three points against you guys or we’ll be more isolated at the bottom. So, make no mistake about it, this weekend’s going to be pivotal weekend for our coach.

MJ: Your new Hungarian striker, Robert Feczesin, has scored twice. What do you think of him? What are his strengths?

AH: Two goals in four games is not a bad record, especially when you consider that we’ve only scored three goals this season. Feczesin has shown a lot of promise - especially on the road. For instance, he was excellent in the first game away to Jeonbuk. He made a great run down the left wing in the first half and put in a wonderful cross, which should have resulted in a goal. Then he headed in a goal and was robbed of another (from a volley that was heading into the top corner) by a brilliant save from the Jeonbuk keeper. However, his home form, despite the penalty-kick goal versus Sangju, leaves a lot to be desired. I don’t know whether it’s nerves in front of the crowd or just the fact that we’ve been chasing games a lot more at home, but he’s taken a few air-shots, been sloppy with the ball and generally been very disappointing. Our tactics haven’t played to his strengths, though. I mean, instead of leaving him all alone up front and just lumping up long balls when he has his back to goal, we need to get in some good crosses. He’s good in the air and gets as much power in his shots as Ronaldo so we need to take advantage of these strengths.

MJ: Which players should we be aware of?

AH: At the moment, not many as we’re in horrible form and aren’t causing anybody too many problems. Nevertheless, Jair and Feczesin are capable of taking any game by the scruff of the neck and wreaking havoc. Hopefully, the two of them can bring their A-games this weekend.

Prediction: As already mentioned, we’ve looked more dangerous away from home and Daegu have struggled to get a win, even though you’ve proven very hard to beat. I reckon, we’ll pick up our first point of the season this weekend.
Daegu FC 1-1 Jeonnam

Aodan Asks and Muyeol answers
Aodan Halligan: Your team is proving quite hard to beat - with your only defeat coming away to Gwangju on the opening day of the season. However, you keep drawing games (three draws in the last three games).  Why - like us - haven't you been able to secure a victory this season?

Muyeol Jung: First of all, the reason we’ve only secured three points so far this season is probably because of a lack of experience in the Classic. In the last three games, we scored first, but ended up conceding an equaliser at the end. We were not wise enough to manage the game tactfully. For example, of all the players starting against Sangju, the only ones who had tasted the Classic before this year were midfielder Lee Jae-gwon, and goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo. On top of that, their experience was either quite long ago (2013 was the last year they played at the Classic) or insufficient.

AH: Even though your defense has only left in half the amount of goals we've let in (five goals, as opposed to our 10 ), why haven't you been able to keep a clean sheet? Is it due to defensive organization or do you not have the players in defense?

MJ: I think the reason might have been the goalie, with all due respect. Our second keeper, Lee Yang-jong played up to the Sangju game. And two specific goals that we conceded, I think, originated from his stupid mistakes. In the opening match he was very insecure and failed to narrow the angle between the goal and an attacker for one of their goals. And when we hosted Incheon, the equaliser we conceded in stoppage time was due to his misjudgment. He was in too much of a hurry to release the ball to a defender. Unfortunately, the ball was passed to an attacker and we gave Incheon a penalty. It remains a mystery why he did that because we were deep in stoppage time and leading 2-1. In the last round, despite the fact that we drew again, our goal was strongly protected by returning keeper, Cho Hyun-woo. The equaliser from Sangju came from a mistake by Park Tae-hong. So, I hope our defense will be fine from now on.

AH: Cesinha, your Brazilian attacker, has two goals to his name. What are his strengths and which other players should we be wary of?

MJ: I think Cesinha is very skillful and versatile – in fact, he can play anywhere in attack. In addition, he is very like Eninho, the former Jeonbuk player. The way Cesinha plays for us reminds me of the way Eninho played for us from 2007 to 2008. And Cesinha has secured a three-year contract with us, has already scored twice this season, and he can do even better if the other Brazilians become more active.

The other player you should be wary of is Sin Chang-moo. He’s from our youth high school and  is a special player who can score a lot. Plus, he’s capable of making cracks in the defense and causing huge problems with his speed and bravery.

AH: How can teams get at you?

MJ: You probably need to mark Cesinha very tightly like Gwangju did in the opening game. If he’s taken care of, we won’t create many chances. And one more thing is that if you take the lead, then you need to score more goals as soon as possible because our strikers are not very sharp nor effective and I don’t think we’re capable of scoring more than two goals in a game.

Prediction: In spite of the fact that Cho Hyun-woo is back to the pitch, I don’t think we are capable of achieving a clean sheet.

Daegu FC 1-1 Jeonnam

So, which side will get their first 3 points after the match?
(Photo via Daegu FC Facebook.com/daegufc2002)

Meanwhile, on match day, Noh Byung-joon’s retirement ceremony will be held as well. It would be very memorable for him as Daegu, his last club, host Jeonnam, his debut club. Please come and see him off to his way with huge respect and big applause. If you travel to Daegu on that day, don’t forget to wear Noh’s shirts or bring any other stuff related to him out with you.

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