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Preview: FC Seoul vs Busan IPark (KFA Cup Rof16)

In past years, this match would be just another in a long line of matches between the team from the capital city and the side from country's second-largest city. However, with Busan's relegation down to the Challenge at the end of the 2015 season this match carries a little bit more intrigue than usual. Will Seoul assert their Classic champion credentials or will Busan show we're no mere Challenge "mugs"?
(Photo via: FCSeoul.com)

Busan Team News

Busan is actually a little tricky to predict. The club (like most K League outfits) does not produce a lot of news, and since they're in Challenge the main Korean news media also does not take a lot of interest.

Cho Jin-ho has largely rotated heavily for cup matches, and on the surface anything the club gets from the KFA Cup seems to be "bonus". In the last round against Pohang, only goalkeeper Kim Hyung-geum started from what has largely been Cho's preferred XI. Lukian, Jeon Hyeon-cheol, Ko Kyung-min, Romulo, Kim Hyun-seong, Lee Gyu-seong, Gu Hyun-jun, Hong Jin-ki, Kim Jong-hyeok, and Jung Ho-jung were the other starters that day. Some of those players (Kim Hyung-geum, Jeon Hyeon-cheol, Lee Gyu-seong, and Jung Ho-jung) started in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Asan, and Cho's rotation policy would suggest they will not start tomorrow against Seoul.
Choi Seung-in claimed MotR for R4 of the Cup. Photo via busanipark.com
Trying to juggle the players who started against Asan, and how Cho has rotated before, a possible XI would be: Gu Sang-min; Yasuda, Danny Morais, another CB, Gu Hyun-jun; Romulo, Ko Kyung-min, another CM; Lim Sang-hyub, attacking MF, Lukian. Let's glance at the possible options for the four open positions.

CB: Cha Young-hwan is probably the best CB option to partner Morais. He did start the weekend though. However, so did Jung Ho-jung who is usually the other option. Cho started Hong Jin-ki and Kim Jong-hyeok in the last round against Pohang, but neither has figured since then. If Cho does decide to rotate with someone who did not play against Asan, it seems like Hong Jin-ki would edge Kim Jong-hyeok. Veteran Lim Yu-hwan could also figure, but he largely hasn't for Cho thus far.

CM: Here we have a problem as all three of Cho preferred midfielders started last weekend in the form of Heo Bum-san, Kim Moon-hwan, and Lee Gyu-seong. If rotation and rest is what Cho is after, of the three Lee Gyu-seong is the 'freshest' as both Heo Bum-san and Kim Moon-hwan start often. It's hard to see anyone else starting as a CM given the squad's lack of depth in this area. Kim Jin-kyu is the only other option, but he doesn't seem to have Cho's trust yet.

AM: Lim Sang-hyub should start given he didn't start against Bucheon a couple weeks ago, and just came off the bench against Asan. The right wing is a bit more open. Jeon Hyeon-cheol and Park Jun-tae both started last weekend, but the former could figure once again. Youngster Lee Dong-jun hasn't figured much, and I could see him on the bench, but unlikey to start. Jung Seok-hwa is another option, but I'm assuming he is injured as he has not made the matchday squad for three straights rounds.

CF: Lukian will almost certainly start, but third-choice forward Choi Seung-in won the 4th round Player of the Round award, and may be rewarded with a rare start. Lee Jeong-hyeop should start (on paper), but it feels unlikely given Cho's history of rotation.

FC Seoul Team News

To be honest, I haven't really tracked Seoul that closely this season. So, detailed information I cannot give you. That being said, Seoul (and Hwang Sun-hong) seems to continue to suffer from their traditional slow season start. They crashed out of the ACL in rather embarrassing fashion, and can't really seem to get any sort of momentum in the league. Classic sides came into the cup in the 4th round (the last one), so it's hard to make any solid predictions based on one match. Seoul, of course, knocked out FC Anyang in their first ever meeting. However, Seoul is a "big club" by Korean standards, and that means they, ahem to trot out an old cliche, have an obligation to compete for and try and win every trophy available. So, I'm expecting Hwang to send out a slightly stronger side than they did last round.

Dejan remains their key player, despite his advancing years. I could see him being rested for this one though with Park Chu-young getting a start. Yoon Il-lok, who scored twice against Anyang in round 4, should get a nod on the wing. Former Busan IPark midfielder, Ju Se-jong, started last weekend, but it'd be nice for him to get to face his former club. I'd also expect some other 'fringe' players to see some time.
Will former Busan midfielder Ju Se-jong face us?

Thoughts and Predictions

While it'd be extremely pleasing to see Busan knock Seoul out, it's difficult to see it happening. The game will be played at Seoul World Cup Stadium, which probably doesn't mean a lot given the lack of midweek attendance at matches here. But, Seoul will probably take the match slightly more seriously, and in recent history we struggle to beat Seoul. Hopefully we play well, make life difficult for Seoul, and generally give a good account of ourselves. Seoul to win it 2-1.

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