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Preview: K League Challenge Round 26

Despite the K League Classic taking an extended break due to internationals, there is no sign of let up in the Challenge with the first instalment of a double game week starting on Wednesday night. Results at the bottom end of the table have given the likes of Seoul E-Land and Ansan Greeners hope of salvaging something from this season. Likewise, the race for the playoffs shows no signs of slowing down. For details on some mouthwatering match ups such as Seongnam FC taking on Busan IPark and Suwon FC welcome Bucheon 1995 and much more, here's your guide to round 26 of the 2017 K League Challenge campaign.

Image via Seoul E-Land Facebook

Gyeongnam FC (1st) Vs Daejeon Citizen (10th) 19:00

Top welcome bottom on Wednesday evening when the K League Challenge Champions elect Gyeongnam FC host Daejeon Citizen at Changwon Football Center. Gyeongnam recently extended their lead to 11 points at the top of the league thanks to wins over Seongnam and Bucheon in the previous two rounds, two teams that also have eyes on top flight football for next season. The same cannot be said for Wednesday's opponents Daejeon Citizen, however, who have completely contrasting fortunes. Lead by former Gyeongnam assistant manager Lee Youngik, the Purples prop up the table and are on course to record their worst ever K League finish.

James Edrupt and I preview the game with a writers' chat here.

Suwon FC (6th) Vs Bucheon 1995 (5th) 19:30

Once tipped to make an instant return to the K League Classic, can a floundering Suwon FC get their playoff push back on track when Cho Dukjae's side host fellow promotion hopefuls Bucheon 1995 on Wednesday evening? Suwon are on a run of four straight defeats and are without a win in five. It gets worse too as it has been over 450 minutes of football since Suwon found the back of the net. Such torrid form has seen Suwon slip to sixth place and six points behind Seongnam in fourth. Wednesday's opponents Bucheon 1995 have also since dropped out of the playoff positions having lost their last two. Bucheon shipped four goals in each of the aforementioned defeats; a 4-1 drubbing from Seoul E-Land was followed by a 4-2 home reverse to table topping Gyeongnam FC. In both the two previous meetings between these two sides this term, Suwon recorded 1-0 wins but, given the each team's respective form, the result could go either way. However, with home advantage, Suwon will perhaps be seen as the slight favourites.

from Soccerway.com
Prediction: Suwon FC 1-0 Bucheon 1995

Ansan Greeners (9th) Vs FC Anyang (7th) 19:30

Perhaps one of the more surprising results from the previous-but-one round of fixtures was Ansan Greeners' emphatic 4-0 victory over Suwon FC. The Green Wolves were unable to follow up that win, falling to a 3-0 defeat away to promotion-chasing Busan IPark. This Wednesday sees FC Anyang make the short trip to the Wa~ Stadium, a side whose run of just one win in five has seen their mid-season charge for the playoffs cool off somewhat. The gap between Anyang and 4th place is however just five points meaning that, coupled with results elsewhere, a win could put Anyang back in contention. A win for the Greeners may just see them leap frog E-Land into eighth. In the only two previous meetings between these two sides, Ansan and Anyang have one victory each. A 2-1 Anyang home win in May was preceded by a 1-0 Ansan victory in March.

from Soccerway.com
Prediction: Ansan Greeners 2-1 FC Anyang

Seoul E-Land (8th) Vs Asan Mugunghwa (3rd) 20:00

Seoul E-Land's win over Daejeon Citizen on Sunday meant that the capital club recorded back-to-back victories for the first time in 2017. E-Land are now up to eighth and just five points behind FC Anyang. New recruit Alex, who signed from FC Anyang during the summer transfer window, is in electric from at present having notched four goals in just five appearances. As a result, Wednesday's visitors to Seoul Olympic Stadium, Asan Mugunghwa, will be wary of the former Ulsan Dolphins forward. Asan make the short trip to the capital on the back of a run of just one defeat in five and two straight wins. Last time out Asan edged past playoff hopefuls Suwon FC to move up to third. A win for the police team could make their place in the top four a little more comfortable. E-Land, meanwhile, could move within two points of Anyang should they make it three wins on the spin.

Columnist Matthew Binns previews the game here.

Seongnam FC (4th) Vs Busan IPark (2nd) 20:00

Bouncing back from their FA Cup humiliation and the defeat to Gyeongnam that followed, Seongnam FC are back in the playoff places heading into round 26. Last time out, the Magpies beat notched up a 3-1 away victory over FC Anyang thanks to goals from Kim Dongchan, Lee Hyeonil and an own goal from Kwon Taeahn. Wednesday's visitors to Tancheon are Busan IPark, a team who are in very little immediate danger of relinquishing their grasp on second place in the league. Whilst 11 points separate IPark from league leaders Gyeongnam, an eight point cushion over Asan Mugunghwa means that regardless of the result come Wednesday, Busan will remain in second. Seongnam, however, could go third with a win.

from Soccerway.com
Prediction: Seongnam FC 2-0 Busan IPark

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