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Writers' Chat: Bucheon 1995 Vs Daejeon Citizen

Daejeon Citizen, rooted to the foot of the table, head to playoff-chasing Bucheon 1995 on Sunday afternoon for their K League Challenge round 12 match-up. Citizen have won just once all season and are yet to keep a clean sheet in the league. Bucheon, on the other hand are on course for a top four finish and will be looking to better the 1-1 draw from this season's first meeting with the Purples.

Graphic from Soccerway.com
Ahead of Sunday's clash, Daejeon Citizen columnist sat down with K League United's resident Bucheon 1995 expert Alastair Middleton to discuss how they see the game playing out. And, with Bucheon being the home team, first Alastair Middleton asks Paul Neat:

In your season preview, you wrote that the biggest question was whether Daejeon could get off to a good start and give themselves a solid foundation on which to build a push for promotion. Would you care to update us on the foundations?

If we're talking Foundations, Daejeon merely Build Me Up (Buttercup) and leave me with that Same Old Feeling. But, soul music puns aside, looking back on that prediction, or forecast rather, I was perhaps a bit too optimistic. In my eyes, given how the recruitment went over the winter, Daejeon had a forecast of clear blue skies and radiant sunshine, when in actual fact we have had an absolute shower of the proverbial instead. 

Daejeon would only be top of the league if the league table itself was upside down. Seven goals have been conceded in the closing minutes of games or halves. If Daejeon were able to see out the half and concentrate right up until the half time or full time whistle were then Citizen would have eight more points than their current total.

With Bucheon scoring 37% of their goals in the last 15 minutes, I am worried that this is going to happen again come Sunday.

The only clean-sheet that Daejeon have kept this term was against the University team in the Cup and the have the worst defensive record in the league. I got a bit nostalgic seeing Kim Jinkyu receiving a red card last week having seen him do similar for years in the Classic. How is he at Challenge level and what's wrong with the defense?

He's good on the ball and has a decent range of passing but he's slow, as you saw from his sending off where he wasn't quick enough in closing down the attacker. Honestly, I expected more from him in terms of his leadership because, as of yet, he hasn't really been the captain I thought he would be. 

Daejeon certainly lack leadership, conceding so many late goals is testament to that, and so I'd have been looking to him to help see games out. This is something that former Citizen defender Jean-Claude Bozga feels he could add to the Daejeon team as he mentioned in our latest interview with him.

The manager doesn't seem to know, so perhaps you could help him. What is Daejeon Citizen's best-eleven? 

I have pondered long and hard about what Daejeon's best eleven is, I think the formation is suitable because of the personnel available, i.e. one main striker and two inside forwards either side. It's at the back and in midfield where problems lie so I would go with something like this:

Kim Jungjoo just misses out on the wing but I do like his directness but with Lee Hoseok, who is very similar, on the other side, I would opt for Levan as he offers something different with his technique and ability to occupy positions centrally.

I do think that Daejeon need another centre half to partner Kim Jinkyu, ideally someone who is a bit quicker that would allow Kim to sweep but that's a strong as a back four Daejeon could field. Although, we will have to wait if we are to see a back four like that as Kang Yunsung is injured for the game on Sunday, and both Kim Jinkyu and Jang Jungyoung are suspended.

I apologise for the negativity of the previous questions so let's look for some optimism. I still think that just about any team - even Seongnam - can go on a run and get to the playoffs. Any chance of including Daejeon in that?

It's very easy to be negative about Daejeon this season so no need to apologise, they have been poor but so were Seongnam until they started to pick up a few wins. If Daejeon are to do the same then they need to pick up another win this month. They can't get to mid-June and still have one league win under their belts otherwise the season will be complete write-off which, is how it is looking to be at the moment. 

Either the manager gets the team selection right or he goes because that squad of players is much better than the results show. Citizen have been tactically naive and a bit too green, I can't help but think the wielding of the manager's sharp axe has attributed to that and has thus destroyed the players' confidence.

Score prediction on Sunday?

Well one prediction I wasn't actually wrong about was a 2-0 win for Gyeongnam last week, I can only see the game resulting in a Bucheon win; I'd say 1-0.

Paul Neat asks Alastair Middleton

Bucheon are seemingly aspiring to be the Arsenal of Korea in the sense that they are enjoying fourth place, much like how they did for a lot of last season, are you happy with that for now, to leave the scrap for automatic promotion to Gyeongnam and Busan and then prepare for the playoffs?

Absolutely. The Challenge is a tough league and apart from the top two it seems very even. Gyeongnam offered clues last year when they had nothing to play for that they would be a different prospect this time around while Busan could probably hold their own in this year’s Classic. Bucheon are not at either of their levels.

 As for the rest it is a fascinating league. Even Seongnam and E-land have finally figured out how to win games and that six-point gap between 6th and 7th could disappear very quickly. I thought Ansan were woeful against Bucheon (who weren’t much better) last week but then they bounce back at the weekend to beat Asan so anything can happen. The play-offs have to be the target for Bucheon.

When we spoke last time we discussed the departure of Lukian and the acquisition of Kim Shin who has three goals so far this term but was on the bench versus Busan, what's the story here? You suggested in our previous writers' chat it could perhaps be due to a lack of fitness, is this still a concern 11 games into the season?

Perhaps. Waguininho was suspended the previous game midweek at home to Ansan. That game was utter utter rubbish – as in it was so bad, it made Seongnam v Eland earlier in the day look Real Madrid vs Barcelona kind of rubbish – but it was Kim Shin who ultimately broke the deadlock with the first bit of quality in the 80th minute before Moon Kihan added another a minute later. Then of course, Moon was suspended at Busan. I think the manager only wanted to start with one striker down South and opted for the fresher Waguininho. In the end, the point was moot as Kim Shin came on before half-time anyway and neither of them scored. They’ll both come in fresh off a 7-day break this time and I expect Kim Shin to start.

Moon Kihan is back from suspension, he has two goals and had played in every minute of every Bucheon game until his one-match ban, how much of a boost will he be for the visit of Daejeon? Do you know of any injury news?

Moon Kihan is a Classic–quality player and one day I’m sure he’ll be back playing there be it with Bucheon or with somebody else. He gets booked too often – always has done – but the team will be better for his return in terms of both leadership and goal threat. The substitutions on Saturday all appeared to be tactical so as far as I’m aware there’s no new injury news, or for that matter any suspensions for the first time in a couple of games.

The manager has been very consistent in his team selections, but with Daejeon's Lee Youngik being in stark contrast to this by playing selection bingo every week, do you think this is why Bucheon are 4th and Daejeon are bottom? Would it be too simplistic make such assertions or would you agree that, in the Challenge especially, a settled team is of utmost importance?

I think players like it (the ones who are playing anyway) and supporters like it (so long as they are winning more than losing) but more than that I think the key is that he does know his best team and he plays it. He’s also not afraid to change things up early if necessary as shown by his recent substitutions – A double at half-time at home to Ansan and then a double before half time at Busan, for example. It didn’t work second time around but no-one can accuse him of not being proactive. Just like Lee Young-ik, Jung Gap-seok is in his first job in overall control. They evidently have very different approaches with squads that on paper at least, look to be of similar ability.

Finally, score predictions; how do you see this one panning out?

It won’t be pretty but ultimately Bucheon can shade it and pile more misery on to the purple cellar-dwellers: 2-1.

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