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FA Cup Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs FC Seoul

FA Cup Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs FC Seoul
After their first loss in five, falling to Incheon United in the Gyeongin Derby, FC Seoul make the tough trip south to take on high-flying Gyeongnam FC for the 4th Round of the KEB Hana Bank FA Cup. Seoul may look at the FA Cup as a more realistic way of getting into the AFC Champions League whilst second-placed Gyeongnam might see the competition as a distraction as they look to record their highest ever K League finish.
(image via K League)


via Soccerway

Last Time Out

Gyeongnam FC 2-2 Suwon Samsung Bluewings
This Wednesday's hosts picked up a respectable point at home to fellow ACL-chasers Suwon Samsung Bluewings on Saturday evening. The Reds got themselves off to a perfect start by getting their noses in front after just five minutes through Cho Jaecheol, Yoo Jihoon credited with the assist. However, with just five minutes to go until the interval, Lee Jongsung levelled for Suwon - the midfielder's first of the campaign. Shortly after the restart Brazilian forward Waguininho turned the game upside down, nodding home a teasing Yeom Kihun cross from the right-hand side. However, Gyeongnam were handed an equaliser when Bluewings defender Kwak Kwangseon turned the ball into his own net to see the spoils shared. Lee Jongsung's clearance bounced off of Marcão before ending up in the back of the net via Kwak's out-stretched thigh.

Highlights: here

Incheon United 2-1 FC Seoul

In the Gyeongin Derby at Sungui Arena, FC Seoul lost for the first time since the World Cup break after falling to a much-improved Incheon United side. Seoul took the lead with Lee Sangho finding the back of the net with a far post header with just five minutes on the clock. But, the visitors weren't in front for very long as Nam Jaejun levelled for the Durumi just seven minutes later. In the 77th minute Seoul were reduced to 10 men with central defender Lee Woonghee shown a second yellow.  The former Daejeon Citizen man was adjudged to have pulled Moon Seonmin's short on the half-way line and was given his marching orders. From then on Incheon looked like the only side that were going to go on and find a second goal. To which they did, in the 87th minute when Moon Seonmin - on a substitute - was played in by Go Seulki and, whilst bearing down on Seoul custodian Yang Hanbin, the Korean international winger coolly slotted the ball into the far corner with aplomb.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Astonishingly, the last six times which Gyeongnam and Seoul have met the game has ended up as a draw. Earlier this campaign the two sides played out a 0-0 stalemate at Changwon Football Center, their first meeting in four years.  The last time FC Seoul beat Gyeongnam was back in November 2012 when a Dejan brace and a Jung Jogook strike gave Seoul a 3-0 win.

Wednesday's clash will be the first time Gyeongnam and Seoul have faced each other in the FA Cup. However, in the days of the K League Cup, the Reds and the 2015 winners FC Seoul have met on six occasions. The Reds' last victory over Seoul was in the K League Cup back in June 2011, Yoon Bitgaram with the only goal of the game.

FA Cup

Gyeongnam made it to the fifth round last year, beating K3 side Hwaseong and Daegu FC away from home before eventually losing to Ulsan Hyundai. The previous two seasons, whilst still in the second tier, the Reds fell at the first hurdle, losing to Gangwon in 2015 and Busan IPark in 2016 in the third round. Gyeongnam made it to the quarters in their first season back in 2006 and again in 2013, to date their best FA Cup finishes.

FC Seoul have won the FA Cup just once since 2004, beating Incheon United in the 2015 final at Sangam but have finished as runners up twice in 2014 and 2016, losing to Seongnam in 2014 and bitter rivals Suwon Bluewings on penalties in 2016. Last season Seoul were knocked out on penalties by eventual finalists Busan IPark in the fifth round after a 0-0 draw.

Team News

With such a lofty league position, Gyeongnam gaffer Kim Jungboo may feel as though the FA Cup could be an unwelcome distraction as his team look to qualify for the AFC Champions League for the first time in the club's history and so may look to rest some of his big hitters. The likes of Marcão and Negueba may be rested which could allow the likes of Kim Shin, Kunimoto and Kim Hyogi to be given a run out.

FC Seoul will be without long term absentee Kim Seongjun whose season is over after the former Seongnam midfielder ruptured his ACL in the win over Jeonnam Dragons last Wednesday. Fellow midfielder Ha Daesung is a major doubt with Seoul gaffer Lee Eulyong admitting that a return to action isn't in the offing for the club's former captain. Centre back Lee Woonghee will be available despite his red card against Incheon as his suspension will only apply to Seoul's next league fixture. Shin Jinho will be available again. Song Jinhyung was an unused substitute for the 2-1 defeat to Incheon at the weekend, the former Jeju United midfielder may finally make his second debut for the club after signing at the tail end of last season.

Much like with his opposite number, Seoul manager Lee Eulyong's team selection will be a clear indicator as to how seriously the 2016 finalists will be taking the competition this season. At this stage, qualifying for the ACL by finishing in the top three seems highly unlikely and so Seoul's best chance of continental football next term may be by winning the FA Cup.

The Adversary

With half of the league campaign played Gyeongnam are proving that they are the real deal by sitting in second place. With a strike force that possess such potency and power thanks to Negueba and Marcão, not to mention new recruit Paulinho and Cho Jaecheol, it is little surprise that the south coast outfit are enjoying such a successful campaign.

Whether or not Kim Jungboo will take the FA Cup seriously or not will be evident in his team selection come Wednesday night. The victors of this tie will player with Jeju United or Korea University at home in round five. But, with the likes of Suwon Bluewings, Jeju United, and Ulsan Hyundai unable to put the pressure on league leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, squad rotation may allow some fringe players to get a run out before these two sides meet again on Saturday at Sangam in the league.

Gyeongnam set up in a 4-4-2 formation with their attacking play focused on their two inverted wingers. The number 77, Negueba, offers speed, creativity and unpredictable one-on-one play from the left wing while Japanese Kunimoto offers vision and guile cutting in on his left foot from the right wing. They look to attack quickly and directly at opponents and try to play into Brazilian Marcão around the goal.

Gyeongnam are happy to defend quite deep, they make small efforts to press around the halfway line but are content to sit back in two banks of four and wait to win the ball, from there they look to spring counters as quickly as possible. Negueba is key to this, not only is he willing to work back and help his fullback defend, but he is able to carry the ball at high speed and, within a few seconds, surge downfield. Kunimoto isn't as quick at carrying the ball but when countering is able to find incisive passes that cut through disorganised or exposed opposition defences.

Last season's K League 2 top scorer Marcão leads the line and is the focus of deliveries into the box. He offers strength on the ball and in the air but is also capable of creating opportunities for others and is a smart finisher in the box.

Gyeongnam are also willing to allow their full-backs to venture forward and join the attack, with Kunimoto and Negueba both adept at tucking inside and finding pockets of space to pick defences apart or shoot from around the box.

Choi Young-jun has to take care of a lot of the defensive legwork protecting the back four and bring a halt to counter attacks when Gyeongnam's wingers and fullbacks are caught far up-field.
- K League Coach

Gyeongnam starting XI vs Seoul, K League 1 R11


After the manner in which FC Seoul lost to Incheon at the weekend morale amongst the players won't be particularly high. However, Wednesday's match will give Lee Eulyong's men the chance to bounce back quickly and get their season back on track. That said, Gyeongnam have been very strong all year, particularly at home where the Reds have lost just twice.

Gyeongnam 2-0 FC Seoul

Full FA Cup 4th & 5th Round Draw: here

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