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Preview: Busan IPark vs Ansan Greeners

This Saturday sees Busan IPark host Ansan Greeners in the K League 2. Both sides have had positive starts to the season and will be looking to consolidate their current positions in the promotion places. Busan are unbeaten so far this year, but Ansan will be out for revenge for last season after Busan won all four meetings between the teams.
(image via Busanipark.com)

Last Time Out

Busan IPark recorded their second win on the bounce with a 1-0 victory over Daejeon Citizen. Lee Dong-jun scored the winner after a defensive mistake on 10 minutes allowed him an easy finish past keeper Kim Jin-young. The day went from bad to worse for the Daejeon keeper when he charged out of his box to bring down Lee after he broke clear of the defence again before half time. A red card and a reshuffle followed, leaving Daejeon with an uphill task in the second half.

Busan continued to create chances after the break, with Lee Gyu-seong coming closest to scoring the second with a shot that was cleared off the line by defender Jeon Sang-hoon. Daejeon rarely threatened to equalise, but they could have stolen a point in stoppage time when substitute Kim Sung-ju headed narrowly wide.

Ansan Greeners, meanwhile, recorded a 0-0 draw away to Seongnam last weekend. Following consecutive home wins against Daejeon and Anyang, the result kept Ansan in the top four to continue a promising start to the year. They will also be flying high after a 7-0 victory over Suwon University in the third round of the FA Cup on Wednesday night.

Previous Meetings

Last year Busan dominated the meetings between these two teams, winning the games 3-1, 3-0, 3-0, and 1-0 respectively. The final match saw Ansan put up the best fight, with Busan needing a last-minute header from defender Hong Jin-gi to take all the points.

The Adversary

Ansan have exceeded expectations so far this season, picking up 7 points from their first 4 games. Conneh is settling into the side well, and Ansan's attacking options are certainly more formidable than last season. The return of goalkeeper Lee Hee-seong from national service has helped bolster Ansan's defence, which earned its first clean sheet last weekend at Seongnam.

The defence is going to be tested to its limits this weekend, however, as an impressive Busan side look to earn three wins on the bounce. Busan conceded three goals in their first two games, though, and this is where Ansan might find their confidence. The 3-2 comeback with nine men, and their attacking decisiveness against Anyang has shown this Ansan side has teeth this season. With Jang Hyeok-jin fit again, a rekindling of his partnership with Raul from last season could provide a real threat here. However, manager Lee Heung-sil has yet to settle on the forward line, with Conneh starting with Kim Tae-hyeon and Choi Ho-ju up front last week, with Lee Geon and Choi Myeong-hui working the full length of the pitch with Ansan deploying a back three. Such an adventurous starting line-up looks unlikely with Busan winning all four encounters last season with an aggregate of 1-10. Expect a more defensive set up from the Green Wolves on the southeast coast, possibly mirroring the 4-1-4-1 used on Wednesday to see off Suwon University in the cup. Most interesting will be who leads the line, with Raul selected midweek, presumably a hint that Conneh will start in Busan; the Uruguayan's hat trick has given the Ansan coach a welcome selection headache.

From an Ansan perspective, getting back up the Gyeongbu Expressway with a point will be another sign of progress.

by Ansan Greeners columnist Mike Brandon

Who To Watch

For Busan, 23 year-old central defender Kim Myung-joon (known as Kim Jong-hyuk prior to this season) has made an impressive start to 2018. A bit-part player over the past three seasons, Kim has been an ever-present so far this year and has looked solid. The arrivals of Yeon Jae-min and Park Tae-hong this winter window mean that Kim will have a fight on his hands to hold onto his place, but on this form it's his position to lose.

For Ansan, Hong Dong-hyun will be desperate to make an impact against his former club. The attacking midfielder was a key part of Busan's 2016 promotion challenge, scoring 5 times in 29 league appearances. After being shortlisted for the league's Best XI that year, it was a surprise that Busan let him go last summer. Hong is a tough tackler with an eye for goal, as he showed against Anyang two weeks ago when he opened his Greeners account. Injuries have plagued his career so far but he will be a key man for Ansan if he can stay fit.

Hong-Dong-hyun celebrating a goal for Busan IPark in 2016 (Image via Busanipark.com)


Greeners already look like a stronger proposition than they did when finishing second-bottom last year. Busan scored three against them in three different games last season, but this should be a closer affair. However, Busan look to be in good shape and at home I expect them to sneak it.

Busan IPark 1-0 Ansan Greeners

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