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Preview: K League Challenge Round 28

It's all about those much-coveted playoff spots as the 2017 K League Challenge season heads into Autumn and the last round of fixtures. Whilst Gyeongnam are still sitting pretty on top of the pile, and look odds on to seal the title with matches to spare, which teams will make up the rest of the top four remains to be seen as is very much all to play for. Who will come out on top when Bucheon 1995 in third host fifth placed Asan Mugunghwa on Sunday? Can Seoul E-Land make it an incredible five wins on the spin and step up their late push for the playoffs when they head to Suwon? All this and more in your guide to K League Challenge round 28.

Image via Seoul E-Land Facebook

Saturday 9th September

Suwon FC (7th) vs Seoul E-Land (8th) 19:00

Life without manager Cho Dukje begins this Saturday when Suwon FC welcome Seoul E-Land to Castle Park. The former Daewoo Royals midfielder, Cho, who had been in charge since 2012, stepped down last weekend after a dismal spell of five straight defeats and no wins in six. Such form has meant that Suwon dropped to seventh and, with just nine games left, are in grave danger of falling out of the playoff race completely. Seoul E-Land, meanwhile, are very much on the up having recorded four straight wins, including a 1-0 victory of league leaders Gyeongnam last time out. E-Land are now just one point behind Suwon and might just have put themselves in contention for a late run at the playoffs, given the trajectory of their recent form. In the absence of Brazilian forward Alex, Choi Ohbaek (pictured above) has bagged four goals from his last two matches, including a hat-trick in the 3-2 win over Asan Mugunghwa. Given E-Land's rejuvenation, they will perhaps be seen as the favourites for this one.

from Soccerway.com

Prediction: Suwon FC 0-1 Seoul E-Land

FC Anyang (6th) vs Gyeongnam FC (1st) 19:00

A 3-3 draw to Suwon FC last time out meant that FC Anyang last picked up maximum points six games when the Violets saw off the challenge of Seoul E-Land at home in mid July. The once tipped dark horses for a gallop at the playoffs sit in sixth but are nine points behind fourth placed Seongnam. Up next for Kim Jongpil's men is the visit of league leaders Gyeongnam. Gyeongnam suffered a shock defeat to Seoul E-Land last time out and so will want to exclaim that the defeat was a mere footnote in their title clinching season by bouncing back with a win. The last time these two teams met was at Changwon in the middle of July when FC Anyang pulled off an unlikely 1-0 victory thanks to a Cho Sukjae strike midway through the second period. However, the Reds have lost just twice on the road this season and so will be seen as outright favourites for this one.

from Soccerway.com
Prediction: FC Anyang 0-3 Gyeongnam FC

Seongnam FC (4th) vs Ansan Greeners (9th) 19:00

The 4-1 demolition of Daejeon Citizen last weekend saw the Magpies soar back into the playoff places, albeit by just two mere points. Asan Mugunghwa, who remain as the most serious immediate threat to Seongnam's playoff status, dropped to fifth after two straight defeats but do have a game in hand. Back at Tancheon, Seongnam welcome second-from-bottom Ansan Greeners, who despite having the league's third highest goal scorer in Raul, have just one win in ten. When these two sides last met in July, the points were shared after a 1-1 draw at the Wa~ Stadium. Likewise, the teams could not be separated during Ansan's only previous trip to Tancheon either following a 0-0 draw. But, Seongnam's attacking prowess was there to see when the Magpies put Citizen to task last time out and so it would be hard to see further past a home win for the Park Kyunghoon's men.

from Soccerway.com
Prediction: Seongnam FC 3-1 Ansan Greeners

Sunday 10th September 

Bucheon 1995 (3rd) vs Asan Mugunghwa (5th) 18:00

For the day's slightly earlier kick off, Asan Mugunghwa make the short trip across Gyeonggi Province to take on third placed Bucheon 1995. Both of these sides have occupied third place in recent weeks but both have seen their league position fluctuate somewhat over the course if the campaign.  Nevertheless, both will be looking to pick up three points come Sunday for what will be seen as somewhat of a six-pointer. Two wins on the spin has ensured of Bucheon 1995's place in the playoff places but two consecutive defeats has seen Asan Mugunghwa slip to fifth. Last time out Asan lost 1-0 at home to Busan IPark after a 3-2 defeat away to Seoul E-Land the Wednesday before. A win for Asan would see the police team cause further movement in the race for the playoffs whilst leapfrogging Bucheon in the process. A win for Bucheon, however, would give Jung Gabsuk's side a bit of breathing space between themselves and fifth place.

from Soccerway.com
Prediction: Bucheon 1995 1-0 Asan Mugunghwa

Busan IPark (2nd) vs Daejeon Citizen (10th) 19:00

Only a couple of weeks ago Daejeon seemed to be looking more resilient and harder to beat. The Purples even managed to lift themselves of the bottom of the table. But, after three straight defeats, coupled with the resurgence of Seoul E-Land as well as Ansan Greeners' ability to grind out the odd result, Citizen are now five points adrift at bottom of the K League Challenge. This Sunday, Citizen make the long trip to the south coast to take on promotion-chasing Busan IPark. Busan haven't given up on automatic promotion, despite the ten point gap, and so will be looking to put pressure on league leaders Gyeongnam come Sunday. Daejeon have not won away from home in the league in 2017 and haven't beaten Busan away in their last 11 attempts, not since a 2-1 win in May 2008. As thus, Busan will be heavy favourites for this one.

from Soccerway.com

Prediction: Busan IPark 3-0 Daejeon Citizen

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