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Preview: Gangwon FC vs Jeju United

K League 1 Preview: Gangwon FC vs Jeju United


Sixth-placed Gangwon FC hope to reignite their Asian Champions’ League chances at the weekend as they host Jeju United. A win for Gangwon will close the gap between them and fourth-placed Jeju to just one point. Back-to-back defeats have put a dent in Jeju’s title ambitions, but can they bounce back against a Gangwon side that has only lost once in its last nine games? Steve Price previews Gangwon's match against Jeju United on Saturday.


Last Time Out

After 80 minutes of their match against Ulsan on Wednesday, Gangwon looked like they might have their second goalless draw in a row. Then probably the craziest ten minutes (plus stoppage time) of the K League season happened.

Gangwon opened the scoring on 83 minutes when Uroš Ðerić headed home Jeong Seok-hwa’s dinked cross. But two minutes later, Ulsan equalized with a header from former Gangwon captain Lee Geun-ho playing against his old club. Ðerić regained Gangwon’s lead on 90 minutes with his 14th goal of the season, and the goal of the match, a 35-yard curler into the bottom corner.

But in the space of two extra time minutes, Gangwon almost threw the game away. First, Lee Young-jae beat one defender then curled a shot into the net from outside the area to equalize for Ulsan. Then Lee Geun-ho arrived at the far post to get on the end of a low drilled cross that evaded all of Gangwon’s defenders.

Lee’s goal looked to be the winner, and Ulsan then made it 4-2 with a quick counter-attack. But a K League thriller like this wouldn’t be complete without a cameo from the Video Assistant Referee. The ref checked VAR and then disallowed Ulsan’s fourth goal and gave Gangwon a penalty after deciding that Lee Hyun-shik was bundled over in the box. Diego stepped up to equalize for Gangwon…. but missed. Ulsan’s Kim Yong-dae saved the spot kick, but Moon Chang-jin was quickest to react in the goalmouth scramble that followed and managed to score right at the death to earn Gangwon a point.

Previous Meetings

Last time these two sides met, it was three-all at half time in a wet and windy Seogwipo. Magno was the scourge of Gangwon that day. The Jeju United forward bagged a first half hattrick, mainly through individual skill. But Gangwon were also banging in the goals with Lee Tae-ho, Ðerić, and Jung Seung-yong all scoring in the first half. Ðerić then got the decisive goal on 77 minutes to make it 4-3. After that, Gangwon hit Jeju on the break several times as the home side looked for an equalizer, and Diego made it 5-3 in injury time.

Team News

Lee Jae-ik picked up an injury in the first half of Gangwon’s match against Ulsan so will likely miss the match against Jeju. With the games coming thick and fast, Gangwon are likely to rotate a lot of their squad, with Valentinos likely to rejoin the starting lineup. Jung Jo-gook may start up front instead of (or alongside) Uroš Ðerić, and Moon Chang-jin may get a start.

The Adversary

Jeju had a great run of form just before the summer break with only one loss in their final six games before the World Cup. They beat Suwon in the first game back, but then a goalless draw against Gyeongnam and a surprise defeat to struggling Daegu saw the Islanders’ title hopes fade. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors struck the killer blow to any title aspirations Jeju had left on Wednesday. Lee Jae-sung scored the only goal of the game to give Jeonbuk a 1-0 win. Now Jeju will be looking over their shoulders, and will be desperate for a good result against Gangwon to shore up their position in the top four.

One To Watch


Jeong Seok-hwa joined Gangwon from Busan last winter and has cemented himself into a talented Gangwon attacking line. He scored a cracking free kick against Jeonnam earlier in the season, but his passing and tricky runs are one of the main creative outlets for Gangwon. His assist for Gangwon's first goal against Ulsan midweek particularly showed skill and intelligence. Without Lee Geun-ho to now create chances for Gangwon, far more responsibility will fall on Jeong to make these opportunities

Prediction


Jeju's defense has been strong of late, so I don't see Gangwon putting five past them on Saturday like they did the last time these two teams played. With squad rotation, it's hard to predict anything about this game, but Gangwon will go into it knowing they can cause Jeju problems. 


Prediction: Gangwon 2-2 Jeju United

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