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Preview: Daegu FC vs Jeju United

Daegu FC will host Jeju United on Saturday afternoon, having struggled badly thus far during their league campaign, winning only once in the first nine rounds abd finding the back of the net only five times. Jeju, meanwhile, are coming in off a win against Pohang Steelers in a tight contest, making it three wins out of four.  K League United's Branko Belan has a look at the weekend fixture.
(Image via K League)


Last Time Out

Jeju United go into the weekend off an away win to Pohang in a match which could have gone either way, but thanks to a cool-headed Lee Chang-keun in goal, and some heroics from Oh Ban-suk, the islanders were able to come away with all three points.

Jeju went in front just after the hour mark following a free kick into the area from Kwon Soon-hyung, which found the head of Oh Ban-suk, who nodded the ball past Kang Hyeon-mu in the Pohang goal.  

Pohang pressed relentlessly for an equalizer until the dying minutes, but team leading scorer Leo Gamalho could not find the finishing touch to draw his side level. The win moves Jeju up to fourth in the league table on 14 points, equal with Gyeongnam, who lost to Suwon.

Previous Meetings

The two sides met three times last season, with Jeju sweeping the series. The match in Daegu in mid-season was decided by only a single goal, so it could provide some motivation for Daegu to go out and get a result. They have struggled mightily to secure points this season, although they have faced some stiff competition from the teams in the upper half of the table to this point.

Jeju should be approaching the match with confidence, knowing that at least in terms of results, everything seems to be pointing to a win. The team has been playing better of late, and with the opportunity now to focus solely on league play, it should take them into the match with a more focused mindset.

Team News

Jeju have looked better of late, now having won three of four, and bouncing back after a loss last weekend to Jeonbuk Hyundai in a chippy match played in the rain.

It seems that Cho Sung-hwan has answered some of his critics after the win over Pohang, as Jeju are starting to look more like the side that was a handful for the league for much of the season, especially in the middle of the campaign.

His tactics of late with the 3-3-2-2 formation in the shape of a diamond have produced a more aggressive style of football which fans of the K League have become accustomed to from the island side in recent years. With a tight schedule at this juncture of the season, he has been rotating players quite well for the most part lately, meaning that players up and down the roster have been seeing more and more time on the pitch, which will surely come in handy later on in the season.  

The Adversary

Daegu lost on Wednesday night to Sangju Sangmu, leaving them bottom of the league on only six points. The first half between them and their opponents was fairly even, but the game would spring to life in the second half.

They did take an early lead in the second half, but Sangju equalized through Yoon Bit-garam, a Jeju product who is with Sangju this season for his military service. The visitors would strike once again just minutes before the end of regular time.

When Daegu was promoted last season, the thought was that they would be able to be at least competitive enough to stay up in the top flight for a few years. There is a lot of work to be done if they are going to have any chance of reversing their fortunes and at least making a fight of it to stay up come the end of the season.

Against Sangju, although they had much less possession, they had more shots and indeed more shots on target, so there is an obvious crisis in the goal-scoring department at the moment. This team seems to do well as long as the ball stays out of their net, but once they concede, the confidence in the side is not high enough to produce the form needed to get results.

Jeju scored early in many of their matches last season. If the same should happen next time out, it will be a long afternoon for the home side.

Who to Watch

Magno Cruz did not play against Pohang, which means he could well get the start on Saturday afternoon. He has played with more confidence lately, and he could well be back to his goal-scoring form of last season if he can manage to find the back of the net this weekend.

He has suffered through injuries and a fluctuation in form all season, but should he get into the first eleven, which he should, it could be a breakout game for him if the service to the front is good and he is able to capitalize on his chances in front of goal.

Prediction

Jeju have started to turn a corner with their performances in the past few weeks, while Daegu continue to struggle. Jeju showed remarkably strong defensive resolve against Pohang, so scoring goals, or rather the difficulty to do so, will be compounded should Jeju put up another stellar defensive effort.

It should be a fairly easy match for the islanders as long as they stay out of the referee's book and stick to the game that has brought them some very solid results of late.

It should be three points to the visitors when all is said and done.

Predicted Score: Daegu FC 0-2 Jeju United  

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