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Preview: Pohang Steelers vs Sangju Sangmu



Pohang welcomes Sangju to the Steelyard on Saturday, coming off a 2-1 win against Gyeongnam FC, getting back to winning ways following consecutive losses to Jeonbuk and FC Seoul respectively.  While Sangju's season has had a couple of bright spots, they are likely looking forward to the end of the month, as they finally return home at the beginning of May.  Pohang should be the favorites going in, but they will have to show their quality on the pitch to take all three points.

(Image courtesy of steelers.co.kr)

Last Time Out

Pohang defeated Gyeongnam F.C. 2-1 and currently occupy fourth spot in the league table.  Leo Gamalho scored a brace, opening proceedings in the 14th minute from the penalty spot, and doubled his tally just five minutes after the break.  Gyeongnam pulled a goal back through Kim Hyo-gi in the 73rd minute, but the Steelers were good enough to keep their advantage until the final whistle to come away with three points.

It was the first meeting between the teams since 2014, the last time Gyeongnam were in the top flight of Korean football.  Pohang has a distinct advantage in the head to head, having won 14, drawn 6, and lost four against the newly promoted side, which won its first four matches to open the season.

Previous Meetings

The results between Pohang and Sangju during the regular portion of the season in 2017 were quite even, with Sangju winning the first meeting 2-1.  The second time they played,  played, Pohang won by a goal, while the third match ended in a draw.

When they faced each other in the relegation round at the end of the season, the teams shared seven goals in what ended a 4-3 win for the Steelers.  An interesting fact about the head-to-head last season is that the home team didn't win a single match, meaning that Sangju could have an outside chance for an upset this weekend.

Team News

Pohang managed to edge it last time out, but after starting the season on a bit of a roll, they have seemingly fallen flat and have lost the flair which saw them burst out of the gates.

Their record is still very respectable at four wins, one draw and two losses, but it is imperative that they get all three points this weekend if they are to keep pace at all with first place Jeonbuk, which has won six of seven matches thus far and sit on 18 points.

It is still too early to say that they have lost their consistency, but they have a very  winnable match upcoming and there is a need to re-establish a balance at both ends of the pitch.

The Adversary

Sangju currently sits in 8th spot in the league.  They have only won twice this season, their most recent win coming against Incheon United last Wednesday thanks to an injury-time strike from the penalty spot from Lim Chai-min.

Sangju was the worst defensive side in the league last season, conceding more than any other team.  This season, however, they have only allowed a total of eight goals through the first seven rounds, and their goal difference is only a minus 2.

Their biggest problem, as has been the case for several years now, is consistency.  They have yet to beat a side in the top half of the table this season, and it will be even more difficult to do so knowing that Pohang is also trying to rebound this season after what was for them a disappointing seventh place finish last season.

Who to Watch

Leo Gamalho was brought in during the off-season to replace outbound Yang Dong-hyun, who was the leading scorer in the K League last season with seventeen goals.  After impressing in his debut against Daegu FC, where he scored twice, he has been kept off the scoresheet until repeating the feat last week, and it is hoped that he will be able to develop a bit more consistency in front of goal.

Pohang is going to need him to be at his best against Sangju if the odds of a victory are going to be in their favor.  Sangju have not been the easiest team to break down this season, so the Brazilian, who came over as a free transfer will have a bit of pressure to get his name on the scoresheet once again.

Prediction

Pohang have more momentum coming into the match, and even though last season's series featured not a single win on home ground for either club, Pohang has more at stake if they don't win.

Coming into the season, head coach Choi Soon-ho was thought to be facing an uncertain future if Pohang were unable to perform. 

They come in having lost two of their last three, so there is a greater sense of urgency for them to get a result.  They have better quality in comparison to their opponents, and should be able to establish themselves at home.

Having taken all into consideration, Pohang should be good measure for a victory.

Predicted Result: Pohang Steelers 2-0 Sangju Sangmu








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