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Preview: Seongnam FC vs Busan IPark

After a sobering defeat in midweek, K League 2 leaders Seongnam look to tighten their grip on first place this weekend against fourth-placed Busan IPark. The visitors travel north on the back of four straight draws, with the opportunity to close the seven point gap to the top of the table. 

Last Time Out

Seongnam made the perfect start to their visit to Asan in midweek when Kim Jeong-hyun curled in a free-kick after two minutes. The military side fought back, however, and equalised when Lee Han-saem bundled home Hwang In-beom's free-kick into the box. In-form striker Han Eui-gwon then gave Asan the lead after the break, smashing home from Ko Mu-yeol's pass, and Ko added the third himself with a tap-in from close range. Seongnam's misery was compounded when Han Eui-gwon broke away after a defensive error and combined with Hwang In-beom to score an excellent fourth. Seongnam did pull back a late consolation through Kim Jeong-hyun's tap-in, but by then the damage had already been done, and the match finished 4-2 to Asan.

Busan IPark, meanwhile, could only manage a 2-2 draw with bottom club FC Anyang on Wednesday evening. Despite dominating for much of the first half, Busan conceded when Brazilian midfielder Romulo was caught in possession following a short corner, and Marcos broke away for Anyang to tee up Choi Jae-hoon for a well-taken finish. Busan equalised just before the break with a wonderful strike on the turn from Kim Jin-gyu, his fourth of the season, to ensure spoils were shared as the teams came out for the second half.

After missing an earlier chance and enduring a frustrating evening, attacking midfielder Ko Kyung-min headed Busan into a 67th minute lead from Romulo's corner. That had looked like being enough to take the three points back to Busan until Kim Sin-cheol's goal with eight minutes left on the clock tied things up again. Busan almost stole the points at the death when substitute Lee Dong-jun picked out Han Ji-ho with a cross from the left, but the winger's header was brilliantly saved by Jeon Soo-hyun. The result left Busan in fourth place, four points off Bucheon in third.

Previous Meetings

Spoils were shared when these teams met on the opening day of the season. Busan had striker Choi Seung-in sent off after thirteen minutes for an elbow (this was later rescinded) but despite playing most of the match with ten men, Busan edged the encounter. They took the lead through Kim Jin-gyu's controlled finish after a free kick, and looked to be well on their way to three points when Lee Ji-min was sent off late on for Seongnam. Seongnam had the final say, however, equalising through Eder's injury time penalty.

Last year these teams met four times in the league and the results were just as tight. Busan and Seongnam both won one game apiece, while the other two matches ended in draws.

Who To Watch 


For Seongnam, Brazilian midfielder Eder is always a threat. Although he failed to make much of an impact last year at K League 1 champions Jeonbuk, he certainly has the quality to thrive in the K League 2, as he showed in his two seasons with Daegu. This year he already has four goals, and against Asan in midweek he looked lively and dangerous every time Seongnam went forward.


For Busan, long-serving winger Han Ji-ho is starting to come into his best form. While the likes of Lim Sang-hyub and Jung Seok-hwa left the team in the last transfer window, it was something of a coup to keep hold of Han, who scored 10 goals in this division in 2016 when seeing out his military service with Asan. A willing runner with a fierce shot, Han will be one of Busan's key men as they look to get back to winning ways.

Prediction

There isn't much between these two teams but Seongnam are enjoying the better season. How they recover from conceding four to Asan in midweek will tell us a lot about their credentials as automatic promotion hopefuls. Although I expect them to get their title charge swiftly back on track, Busan are unbeaten in six and are no pushovers.

Seongnam FC 1-1 Busan IPark


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