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Preview: Asan Mugunghwa vs Seoul E-Land


Monday night sees Asan Mugunghwa finally back in action on Monday night after a match postponement last week. The police play host to a Seoul E-Land side who recorded a rare victory last week as they look to prise themselves away from the foot of the table.
(Photo Credit: KLeague.com)

Last Time Out

Due to Asan's Yi Sun-shin Stadium being used for U20 World Cup practice and preparations, it has been a while since the police have last seen competitive action. Their previous game on Saturday May 20th saw them record an unlikely away victory against Bucheon 1995. The game saw them take the lead after Bucheon's Nilson converted into his own net before his teammate Jin Chang-soo could spare his blushes seven minutes later. Asan would hold on before taking an unlikely lead in the 79th minute through a Lim Sun-young effort, which proved enough to claim all three of the points and keep them in third.

The victory saw Asan arrest their recent wobbling form. Despite a strong start to this season in their new location, the team had only won once in their last five league outings prior as well as crashing out of the cup to K League Classic outfit Gwangju FC.

Seoul E-Land also recorded a rare win in their last outing, claiming all three of the points away to Ansan Greeners after a sublime 90th minute effort from Japanese midfielder Atsuki Wada saw them overtake their opponents to move up to eighth in the standings.

Previous Meetings

The two sides met in Jamsil at the end of April, playing out a 1-1 draw. Asan took the lead in the 29th minute through Ju Hyun-jae before Kim Jae-woong was shown his second yellow card moments later to leave the away side with ten men. Seoul E-Land would eventually go on to equalise in the second half and claim a share of the spoils.

Team News

After picking up his third yellow card of the season, attacker Gong Min-hyun will not be available for selection on Monday evening. The Bucheon 1995 loanee has only scored the single goal this season, but was a key component of last year's success when he scored seven goals throughout the title-winning campaign (as Ansan Mugunghwa). He also collected eight yellow cards last season, suggesting that his suspension for card accumulation in this campaign should not come as that big of a surprise.

In other Asan related team news, six new recruits were announced on Friday; Goo Dae-young (Anyang), Heo Beom-san (Busan), Jo Seong-joon (Gwangju), Kim Yeong-nam (Busan), Kim Boo-kwan (Suwon FC), and Kim Ryun-do. The players will first have to undertake approximately five weeks of basic military training so will not likely be available for Asan until July.

There are no suspensions for the away side to concern themselves with, although given the size of their roster, some could argue that the manager could do with having a few of his options limited. Twenty-nine out of thirty-nine registered squad players have featured for E-Land this season as manager Kim Byung-soo has experimented with the club's many winter acquisitions (not all of them his admittedly) to try and discover a winning formula. Recent games have seen relatively less tinkering than in those early fixtures, with supporters hoping they can build on last week's positive result.

The Adversary

Seoul E-Land are currently enduring their third season in the K League Challenge with their initial goal of promotion to the classic looking increasingly unlikely with the passage of time. Managerial overhauls, a mass influx of players as well key figures outgoing, combined with budget cuts have slowly worn away at any reason to be optimistic this season. Our Stephen Waddell has covered his concerns in far greater detail in his 2017 season preview, and its difficult to tell whether the victory at Bucheon represents the turning of the corner or yet another false dawn in a project that had the initial promise, but recent outlooks continue to suggest otherwise.

On the field, one of E-Land's biggest issues seems to be scoring goals, having accumulated eleven for the campaign, the second worst in the league behind Seongnam who sit three points above them. No player has scored more than two goals, with both leading scorers playing in midfield. Their lack of strike force is further exemplified by the underwhelming performance of winter signing Lovinho who has thus far failed to adapt to life at Jamsil.

Who To Watch

Suwon Bluewings loanee and midfield Kim Eun-seon ties the scoring charts at Asan with three goals in 2017. The other player with three goals is Gwangju midfielder Lim Sun-young. Both are in their final season of their military service and boast the experience of last season's canter to the title which should put them in good stead as this year wears on.

Last week's hero Atsuki Wada will also certainly be a Seoul E-Land player to watch in order to see if he can come close to repeating his spectacular effort. The player has featured on twelve occasions so far, establishing himself as one of the players in Kim Byung-soo's plans for trying to salvage this season.

Seoul E-Land's Myung Joon-jae may also be worth keeping an eye on. The ex-Jeonbuk man has only featured six times for E-Land this season but has scored in his last two appearances, even if his most recent goal was turned in with his hand.

Prediction

Despite winning their previous game, I think Asan will have benefited from the additional week off as it will have given them time to regroup and work on their slightly faltering form. Given also how difficult it has been for E-Land to find joy this season, I cannot look beyond the home team for a win here.

Predicted Score: Asan Mugunghwa 2-0 Seoul E-Land

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