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Preview: Jeju United vs Incheon United

Jeju United enter Saturday's clash on the island coming off their second win of the season, a convincing 3-0 triumph over Jeonnam Dragons, in what was their most complete performance to date.  Tiago Marques finally netted his first goal for his new club, Lee Chang-min kept up his super form he has displayed all year and Lee Chang-keun secured his second consecutive clean sheet.  Incheon meanwhile were unlucky to fall by a single goal at home to Sangju Sangmu, courtesy of a late penalty, and will be hoping to get back on track at the weekend.  Branko Belan provides his analysis of the home side, while Tim Barnes chips in his thoughts for the visitors.

(Photo courtesy of jeju-utd.com)

Last Time Out

Jeju have struggled for the good part of the season, coming into the Jeonnam match with only two wins across all competitions this season.  The good news is that Jeju had a great degree of success against the Dragons last season, taking seven of a possible nine points.

The match was a chance to get things moving in the right direction for last season's runners-up, and things did look very different with several changes to the side that drew against Sangju last weekend.  Tactically, the side lined up in a new formation as well, a variation on a 3-5-2, with two attacking midfielders supporting two strikers up front.

The first half was fairly even, with both teams having relatively equal possession of the ball, but it was Jeju who were able to make the breakthrough on 22 minutes as Brazilian Tiago Marques finally put his name on the scoresheet.  The teams went to the break with the score unchanged, making it only the third time this season that Jeju had reached half-time in the lead.

The second half was chippy from the beginning, with both teams pushing forward in search of a goal.  Jeonnam could have drawn level on a few occasions, but Jeju's defensive unit held firm.

Things took a turn in Jeju's favor just over ten minutes into the second half when Wanderson got his elbow up on Ryu Seung-woo, resulting in a straight red card, giving Jeju a chance to go forward for the win.

And, go forward they did.  Showing signs of the team that terrorized opposing defences last season, they forayed into attack often, and their efforts were rewarded, when Lee Chang-min took possession of the ball at the top of the box following a corner, swiveled past a host of defenders and fired low into the right corner of the net to double Jeju's advantage.

Victory was assured for Jeju in the 81st minute, when Kim Hyeon-wook scored his first of the season, beating Jang Dae-hee in the Dragons' goal, placing it almost identically where the second had finished.

Despite having a man advantage for the better part of the second half, it goes down as a character win for Jeju, which they will hope to build on as the season kicks into another gear. 

Previous Meetings

In three meetings between the two sides last season, Jeju managed to get the better of Incheon, with a win and two draws.  Matches between the clubs have always been tight, defensive, and physical affairs, and there is no reason to believe that things will be any different this season.

There was a total of only three goals scored between them in head-to-head play, and twice Jeju were reduced to ten men, but managed to come away with points.  The number of cards between them last season (14) is an astonishing number, and could be a telling sign of what's to come on Saturday afternoon.

Team News

The win against Jeonnam jumped Jeju up to sixth in the table, making it their first appearance in the top half this year.  The bad news is that Jeju, who have been particularly strong at home the past few seasons, have yet to score at the World Cup Stadium, and that task will not be made any easier considering who is coming to town.

Wins had escaped Cho Sung-hwan, as the club came into the match with only one win in five league matches, prompting concerns over his future.

He felt a great sense of relief after the match, saying that it was the result that Jeju fans had been waiting for all season, and pledged to put together a string of results to build momentum for the club with a host of fixtures occupying the schedule in the coming weeks.

The Adversary

Incheon United come into this game on the back of a disappointing last minute defeat during the week to Sangju Sangmu. The 2018 season hasn’t been all doom and gloom, but it has been a little boring. 3 draws and only 1 win from the opening 6 games highlights a lack of strength and depth in the squad.

So heading into the game against Jeju United I see a few changes to the starting XI, with Song Si-Woo made starting ahead of Moon Seon-Min. But Incheon will stick with their 4-5-1 formation.

(Tim Barnes)

Who to Watch

With a bit of a taste for goals now, the ones to watch will be Jeju's strikers against Incheon.  A lot has been expected of the new signings Tiago and Roberson, and with the former finally getting the proverbial donkey off his back, the hope is that it will give him confidence in front of goal to become more of a threat.

With his performance against Jeonnam, which included another goal, Lee Chang-min is stating his case to be included in Korea's national team come the World Cup in Russia.  He is the central figure for this Jeju side, combining finesse with strength, and vision on the pitch with a knack for goals.  At his young age, he is one of the most complete players in the league, and will be instrumental to the team's success this season.

Lee Chang-keun is starting to look like a 'keeper who is gaining confidence in his play, having been named to the Team of the Week in Round 5 for his performance against Sangju, which included several key stops to preserve a draw.  He is finally starting to fill the void left by Kim Ho-jun, who transferred out to Gangwon FC in the offseason.

For Incheon, Montenegrin Stefan Mugosa has scored four goals in four games since joining the team at the start of the season, and has looked like a real asset, according to Tim Barnes.  He didn't have a great game against Sangju on Wednesday, but is a good bet to bounce back on Saturday afternoon.  


It will most likely be a close game, as all encounters between these two teams have been in recent memory.  The hope is, however, that the proceedings will not be as physical as last year, and that things open up a bit more.

That said, Jeju not only need to win at home, they also need to score for the first time on home ground this season, and coming into the match with a few goals in their pocket along with an important three points, should be enough to spur them on to success in front of the home crowd, although it will not be an easy task.

Final Score: Jeju United 1, Incheon United 0

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