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playoffs

Preview: Seoul E-Land vs Asan Mugunghwa


Wednesday evening sees the Seoul Olympic Stadium play host to two sides both looking to chalk up a third consecutive win. Can Asan Mugunghwa continue to cement their place in the play-offs or will Seoul E-Land cause an upset?
(Photo Credit: Asan Mugunghwa Facebook)

Last Time Out

Asan Mugunghwa were made to work for their victory away to fellow play-off hopefuls Suwon FC, claiming all three points with an eightieth minute Han Eui-kwon strike from range.

Reverting back to a 4-4-2 formation last used in their draw against Bucheon 1995, the visitors got off to somewhat of a rocky start as Suwon looked to attack from the get go, being denied just three minutes in thanks to a reactionary Park Hyung-soon save. While the hosts somewhat dominated the majority of proceedings, Asan nearly scored the opener on seventeen minutes when Kim Hyun's long range effort cracked against the upright. Despite this though, the visitors looked to mostly be pegged back up until the interval.

Things did not look as if they would get any better for Asan after the break as they continued to find themselves under increasing Suwon pressure. With Suwon pushing forward for an opener though, Asan would be handed an opportunity to counter. Han Eui-kwon, making his third start for the club, collected a long ball deep in the Suwon half, moved himself into position on the edge of the home side's box and lashed a low ball at the keeper's near post to claim a win that was perhaps not thoroughly deserved.

Seoul E-Land on the other hand traveled to face Daejeon Citizen for what was a match up between the league's bottom two sides. In-form striker and recent E-Land signing Alex would score what would turn out to be the winner just before half-time, bundling in a cross at the far post.

The one goal lead would be no less than their first half performance merited. Buoyed by their stunning victory over Bucheon a week prior, the Seoul-based team tormented Daejeon and should have perhaps netted more were if not for some poor finishing.

Daejeon came out much improved in the second half however, with the likes of Kim Chan-hee, Hwang In-beom and Bruno Catanhede asking a number of questions of the E-Land defence and keeper. The home side looked to have salvaged a point in the dying moments when Jang Joon-young converted the rebound from a Kim Chan-hee shot, only for the linesmen to wave for offside due to Kim's position when the cross was sent in. E-Land would hold out for all three points however, claiming their first consecutive victories of 2017.

The Adversary

Seoul E-Land's third season in existence has not exactly gone according to plan, with the majority of their campaign spent languishing around the foot of the table. Some decent recruitment in the summer however has been matched with a slight upturn in form and fortune, with the team finally recording their first back to back victories at the weekend, including an impressive 4-1 victory over play-off hopefuls Bucheon 1995.

Prior to this E-Land had not recorded a victory since May, but they had been creating chances and recording some high scoring draws, with their fightback against Ansan Greeners being a particular highlight for neutral Challenge watchers. They have now scored 27 goals for the campaign, the same number as Asan, which is impressive considering how long they went having been one of the lowest scorers this season.

Sadly this upturn looks as if it may have come far too late to gate crash the play off party, especially given the quality of the sides already contesting these places out and the twelve point gap, but if they can continue their recent good form, they can at least build up morale and momentum for a push next season, assuming they can then hold onto the talent that is performing and cut the vast amount of deadwood in the winter that is.

Who To Watch

Asan still have a number of players who were involved in last year's canter to the Challenge title, but with their service soon ending and the return to their parent clubs imminent, the police side have had to start looking towards talent within their ranks that can see the season out. Kim Hyun and Han Eui-kwon, from Seongnam FC and Daejeon Citizen respectively, seem to be two of these, having led the line in recent matches and getting themselves on the scoresheet and recent best elevens. Han has been particularly impressive of late, not only for his goals in the last two games, but also for finding himself joint top in the club's scoring charts with three goals, despite only featuring seven times and starting only in the last three. Given his form, it is likely he will find himself starting again come Wednesday evening.

As for Seoul E-Land, their aforementioned recent signing Alex has settled in very well at his new club, scoring five goals in his last four games with some spectacular efforts along the way. Up until his arrival, E-Land had no stand out goalscorer, with winter purchase Lovinho unsurprisingly failing to light up the league. The club will be hoping he can continue as they fight to try claim a respectable finish in the league.

While the Seoul club may have taken a while to find a goalscorer, they have at least had someone to supply the chances. Despite their lowly position in the table, Atsuki Wada is the division's second highest assist maker, in addition to having a couple of goals to his name as well for the campaign. The Japanese midfielder has been a pillar of consistency in a lineup carousel as manager Kim Byung-soo has rotated through his large squad list to find his strongest eleven.

Prediction

Both teams come into this match on a similar run of form, but it is arguably the team lower in the table that has been producing some of the more entertaining football. Seoul E-Land, perhaps freed of the pressure of mounting a promotion challenge, look as if they are enjoying their football recently and surprisingly look capable of scoring goals. Asan though are not to be taken lightly and will not want to lose their grip on their play off position. They should be more than capable of holding off the E-Land attack, waiting for an opportunity to catch them on the break. It would therefore not surprise me if both these sides canceled one another out, so I predict a score draw.

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

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