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Preview: Pohang Steelers vs Incheon United

K League 1 mid-week action sees Pohang Steelers take on Incheon United at the Steelyard. Both sides are looking to turn the corner after having good starts to the season but struggling lately. Pohang have picked up just four points in six games and Incheon have just a solitary point in the same period. Can either side reverse their fortunes Wednesday night?
(image via K League - Pohang Steelers keeper Kang Hyeon-mu )

Last Time Out

Pohang Steelers secured a decent away point at Gangwon F.C. this past Sunday, in an entertaining end-to-end nil-nil (highlights) that sees both remain in the congested mid-table with 14 and 13 points respectively.

The game had a total of 29 shots and it didn’t take long for the first to arrive as Gangwon started brightly. Lee Keun-ho blasted over on the volley after just two minutes from just outside the six-yard box. Pohang responded just a few minutes later with one of a number long-range efforts that went close in the first half; this time it was Song Seung-min with the effort that went over the bar. The best effort of the half came from Jeong Jo-gook with his own long-range dipping shot that was well tipped round the post by the impressive Kang Hyeon-mu.

The second half began in much the same vein with Diego turning well in the box and producing a powerful shot that Kang Hyeon-mu did well to turn over. The closest either team came to scoring was in the 52nd minute when the Pohang namesake of Gangwon’s Korean international Lee Keun-ho burst down the right flank and floated the ball to the far post where Lee Sang-ki knocked the ball back across goal for right back Gwon Wan-gyu whose effort was stopped on the line by Gangwon goalkeeper Lee Beom-young. Pohang players claimed the ball had crossed the line and although VAR was called upon it was impossible to conclude if the ball had indeed cross the line or not, so Lee Beom-young gets the credit for a quick reaction save.

The game ended on a bit of a sour note as VAR was called upon after a seemingly innocuous challenge by Gwon on Gangwon’s Park Jung-soo. Park had slid in and just knocked the ball away and Gwon’s momentum carried his studs into Park’s knee. It was a decision reminiscent of Ulsan Hyundai’s Kim Seung-Jun’s red card against Jeju United in week three. Both incidents being accidental and neither seemed really necessary. Following the two-minute VAR consultation and decision both team’s momentum had been quashed and the game petered out to a stalemate.

Previous Meetings

Pohang ran out winners in three of the four meetings last season including a 5-0 drubbing at the Steelyard where Incheon United picked up a first half red card after already being down two-nil and essentially sealing the match. In all four previous meetings one side failed to score with Pohang and Incheon each picking up a two-nil shutout a piece.

Team News

Pohang will have to make do without Gwon Wan-gyu after his sending-off at the weekend in what will be his second suspension of the season. Gwon will start his military duty in the second half of the season, so he only has a few remaining games after he returns from suspension. I expect to see the versatile Lee Seung-ki fill in at right back as he did earlier in the season against Sangju Sangmu. This may leave space for the return of the Brazilian forward duo of Gamalho and Getterson to get back into the starting 11. They may be needed as Pohang are on a run of three games without a goal, in spite of still averaging just over a goal a game.

The Adversary


Recently Incheon United have narrowly lost their last five games on the bounce, with three of those loses happening in the final minute or injury time. This highlights Incheon’s main weakness, which is a poor defence with no mainstay/standout keeper or centerbacks. With this uncertainty, expect to once again see a few changes to the starting XI with the keeper and multiple defenders likely rotating in. Up front it should stay the same, although it’s possible the formation will change as 4-5-1 has not been working. But a lack of options on the bench might mean that isn’t possible.

Who To Watch


Former Östersunds FK and Djurgårdens IF winger Moon Seon-min has scored six goal so far this season and was the big difference during their shock win over Jeonbuk earlier in the season. His pace matches well when Incheon counter and can be a danger for the Pohang defence.

Prediction

Incheon aren’t easily beaten, but seem to be the masters of their own demise. I can’t see Incheon winning this one and therefore Pohang will have the edge and should come away with the narrow win.

By Tim Barnes

The Steelers have conceded from headers in the last two home games with another goal being conceded on the counter attack. With Moon Seon-min and Montenegrin striker Mugosa, Incheon have players who can capitalise on those weaknesses, so I do expect Incheon to score. Additionally, United have averaged over three goals total per game away from home this season... but most of those have come in their own net. So I agree with Tim that Pohang will come out on top.

Pohang Steelers 2-1 Incheon United


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