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playoffs

Preview: FC Anyang vs Busan IPark

Busan IPark travel to Anyang on Wednesday evening hoping to end a run of three straight draws that has seen them fall eight points adrift of K League 2 leaders Seongnam. Home side FC Anyang remain rooted to the bottom of the league, but seven points from their last three games suggests that this meeting won't be all that straightforward.

Last Time Out

Saturday night saw fourth-placed Busan travel to third-placed Bucheon 1995 in a battle of the promotion hopefuls. Bucheon lined up with two former IPark players, Brazilians Nilson Junior and Willian Popp, and both impressed as Bucheon edged the first half. Popp should have done better with an early header, while a Nilson Junior flick from Moon Ki-han's free-kick grazed the side-netting. Busan keeper Koo Sang-min was eventually forced into a save after a marauding run from Lee Kwang-jae ended with a low shot that Koo saved with his foot.

Busan had chances of their own, with Kim Jin-gyu looking lively and left-back Kim Chi-woo twice going close after forays forward, but the first half ended goalless. Busan improved after the break and should have taken the lead when Kim Jin-gyu played in Choi Seung-in, but an excellent last-ditch tackle from Bucheon's Kim Jun-yub thwarted the Busan striker. Busan looked the more likely team to steal the points in the closing stages, but substitute Han Ji-ho twice failed to beat the goalkeeper when well placed in the final minutes. In the end neither team was able to break the deadlock and the match finished 0-0.

FC Anyang, meanwhile, followed up their wins over Gwangju and Seoul E-Land with a 1-1 draw away to league leaders Seongnam. Seongnam had taken the lead in the first half through Brazilian Muralha, but a goal in the 82nd minute from substitute Kim Sin-Cheol levelled the tie. The result extends Anyang's best run so far this season after an abysmal start that saw them collect only three points from their first eleven games.

Previous Meetings

When these sides last met in April at Busan's Gudeok Stadium, the home side could hardly have asked for a simpler win. Two goals from Choi Seung-in either side of a red card for Anyang defender Chae Gwang-hoon set Busan on their way, before a debut goal from Jonathan Balotelli wrapped up a 3-0 victory.

Results last year also favoured Busan, with Anyang failing to beat the seaside team in four attempts. Busan won two of the meetings, while the points were shared in the other two games between these two sides.

Team News

Busan are likely to be without former international striker Kim Dong-sub and centre back Hong Jin-gi after both went off injured against Bucheon, so there could be returns to the starting eleven for Han Ji-ho in attack and Jeong Ho-jeong in defence. Goalkeeper Koo Sang-min can expect to be replaced by Kim Hyung-geun despite keeping three clean sheets in five appearances, as coach Choi Yoon-gyeom continues to rotate his custodians.

Elsewhere in the squad, former FC Seoul striker Kim Hyun-sung, an Olympic bronze medal winner with South Korea in 2012, will be hoping to make his first start of the year after making three substitute appearances following a long injury lay-off. Ko Kyung-min, who scored a late equaliser against Asan Mugunhwa two weeks ago, should keep his place as an attacking midfielder after Lee Gyu-seong left the team to start his military service with K League 1 side Sangju Sangmu.

Who To Watch


While Brazilian playmaker Romulo remains an ever-present in Busan's midfield, it's his midfield partner Lee Jae-kwon who could be the key against Anyang. The 30 year-old is the calm head who often dictates Busan's play, starting off attacks and setting the pace of the game. While a narrow Busan side struggled to break down Bucheon at the weekend, there should be more opportunities and space against Anyang, and Lee will be the man charged with winning the midfield battle and exploiting the holes in the league's most porous defence.

Prediction

Anyang are finally showing signs of fight after a dreadful start to the season, and recent results suggest a tight game. Busan, meanwhile, are unbeaten in five but without a win in three, and they'll be desperate to keep pace with the league leaders. Busan have the edge in past meetings, but the resurgent men in purple will make this tough for them.

FC Anyang 1-1 Busan IPark

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