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Writers' Chat: Ansan Greeners Vs Daejeon Citizen

Neither Ansan Greeners nor Daejeon Citizen experienced a particularly successful season last term in K League 2; the Greeners and the Purples finishing second bottom and bottom respectively. In round one, both sides suffered defeat and so will be looking to get their seasons well and truly up and running with a victory come Sunday. Columnists Mike Brandon and Paul Neat preview the game with a writers' chat.


from soccerway.com

Paul Neat Asks, Mike Brandon Answers

Paul Neat: Last time out Ansan Greeners lost to Asan Mugunghwa 1-0, setting up with a 4-5-1 formation seemingly to get men behind the ball and frustrate Asan. Given that the Greeners will be at home on Sunday, can you foresee a different tactical outlook? 

Mike Brandon: Given that Ansan took eight points from Daejeon last season, this looks like an opportunity to be aggressive and an entertaining opener will have a direct effect on attendances across the season. However, I think manager Lee Heungsil is hoping that Conneh can slot into Raul's position. Ansan suffered when Raul was out last season, and decent cover was needed. The goals simply aren't there, and two up top did not yield dividends last season. As a result I think we'll see Ansan setting up in a 4-5-1 again. At this level, it has always been a point first then think about a win later. I also think Heungsil is looking for more goals from the midfield, especially given how good some of the players were in the third tier as the now defunct Ulsan Mipo Dockyard Dolphins.

PN: Raul was conspicuous by his absence from the defeat to Asan last week, will he be available for Sunday? He caused Daejeon problems on a couple of occasions last season. 

MB: He was inconsistent last season in terms of fitness, and it usually meant a dip in Ansan's form. No word ahead of Sunday yet, but he was on stage to model the new away kit at Ansan Art Centre last month so I expect to see him returning soon. Basically, Conneh has a great chance to make his mark, as he will be straight out the side when Raul returns.

Both Ansan and Daejeon began their respective season's with a defeat and given how the table looked last season, do you think it's fair to say that both teams will be looking at this fixture as one they ought to be winning? 

MB: Absolutely. In fact, a loss here would not lay the ground work to kick on in this second season of Ansan version 3.0.

PN: Can Ansan improve on last year with this current squad?

MB: I'm not sure. Ansan have mined the National League over the winter, but as we saw last season, what was essentially the "Bayern Munich" of the National League, the players from that team (Ulsan Mipo Dockyard Dolphins), struggled in their step up to the second tier. It is a big task for many of the new players as well as the existing team. Consolidation and more points on the board should be the objective.

PN: Score Prediction?

MB: Ansan to get their first win of the season, with Conneh bagging his first goal. This fixture was the first ever Greeners match last March with a 2-1 win. This season the Greeners keep a clean sheet too!

Ansan Greeners 1-0 Daejeon Citizen

Mike Brandon Asks, Paul Neat Answers

Mike Brandon: Similar to Ansan Greeners, Daejeon Citizen played with one up top last time out, and at home at that. How do you think Ko Jongsoo will set out his team at the Wa?

Paul Neat: I'd imagine the team will be set up in a very similar fashion to that of last Saturday, certainly in terms of formation and shape: a 4-3-3 of sorts trying to get the ball into a tall striker down the middle with two wingers either side. Earlier in the week, Citizen signed striker Park Inhyeok from Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, and at 6 ft 1, I'd expect him to be used as a target man if and when selected. Whether he is ready to start or not is another question so Pedro may keep his place but, as we have seen on many occasions, K League managers like to rotate their squads and Daejeon's is pretty sizeable.

Last week Daejeon's midfield was somewhat absent and so I'd be wondering whether Ko Jongsoo will look to tweak things in that area. Oh Jangeun and Ahn Sanghyeon both sat in front of the back four and were rather deep so there was very little link up play between the midfield and the forward line, aside from long punts up to Pedro. Midfielder Park Suchang was largely anonymous and may be dropped. Alternatively, the manager may rethink what his role in the team will be as he looked a little lost playing in an advanced position. Daejeon have so many players in their squad, more than 50 in fact, and so if any players aren't performing then there will be plenty of others ready and waiting to step in and try and make the most of the opportunity. The Purples are away from home so may look to adjust their 4-3-3 to more of a 4-5-1 when they don't have the ball.

MB: Who would you have down as the biggest danger to Ansan? Any new additions we should be concerned about?

PN: The Brazilian striker Pedro Henrique looked decent last week; he is strong, has good feet and so, if selected, Ansan Greeners' back line will need to be wary of him winning the ball and bringing others into play. Given the right service he could score goals in this league. There have been plenty of new additions, one of which I'd like to see sooner rather than later is Filip Hlohovsky, the Slovakian winger that was signed from Seongnam. He was absent from the 18-man squad last weekend but once he is fit and ready to play he could be key for Citizen this year.

MB: What do you hope for with Daejeon? They failed to beat Ansan last season.

PN: Progress from last year, because 2017 was nothing short of an absolute disaster. Many people are writing Daejeon off and I suppose it is understandable based on how hopeless they looked at times last season but I think just to finish around seventh or eighth would be a step in the right direction. The top half of the K League 2 is so competitive; any two teams from six or seven could go up. Given the amount of upheaval with a new squad, new CEO, new manager, Daejeon fans are just looking to see the green shoots of recovery.

 In a similar vein to Ansan, can Daejeon lift themselves off of the bottom of the K League? Daejeon where a top flight team until not so long ago, do you think that creating the two tiers has created a divide between the haves and the have-nots? What can Ansan learn from the Daejeon experience?

PN: I think so, yes. And, frankly they ought to. I thought the squad they had last year was much better than a bottom placed finish suggested. In the off-season CEO Kim Ho and manager Ko Jongsoo have brought in some quality players with good pedigree, the likes of new skipper Oh Jangeun, Baek Jonghwan, Ahn Jaejoon and Ko Myeongseok for instance, so the foundations are there. But, the squad is too big and could be an issue in the sense that there going to be 32+ players who aren't in the matchday squad; I can't imagine that is going to be good for harmony amongst the players and could cause rifts.

I think promotion and relegation and the introduction of the second tier was the right thing to do. Initially it is going to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, but eventually, as we are seeing now with the top end of the K League 2, teams are getting stronger. In the K League 1 the gap between the teams who are backed by big companies and the citizen clubs is getting bigger and bigger, but it is making the second tier stronger which can only be a good thing in the long run. Sometimes you have to take step back before you can go forward again.

In terms of what Ansan can learn from Daejeon, find the right manager and stick with him. Daejeon have had a new manager every season for the last three years and it has done nothing to help the club. Instead of making wholesale changes every year, for a club like Ansan Greeners it's going to be slow progress and before relegation from the K League 2 is introduced, teams like Ansan can afford to make slow but steady steps forward.

Score Prediction?

PN: The 85th minute winner for Bucheon last week may have knocked the stuffing out of Daejeon so confidence won't be at its highest. The game may be a bit tentative and I can't foresee it being a classic but I think, if Citizen can defend well enough and be organised from set-pieces, they can come away with a draw.

Ansan Greeners 1-1 Daejeon Citizen

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