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Preview: Gangwon FC vs Jeonnam Dragons

Gangwon went into the World Cup in sixth place and will be hoping to push on and break into the top four at the start of the second half of the season. Their first test is a home match against Jeonnam Dragons who are currently 10th and hoping for a good result to maintain the gap between them and Daegu and Incheon United at the bottom of the table. Steve Price previews Gangwon's match against Jeonnam on Sunday.

Last Time Out

Gangwon went through a rough spell of five defeats in six games but then regained some form with two wins and two draws in their five games before the break. That mini-run put Gangwon in the top half of the table and just two points off the top four. Their final game before the World Cup break was a one-nil win away at Gyeongnam, revenge for Gyeongnam’s three-one win which ended Gangwon’s bright start to the season. That match was billed as the battle of the top scorers as Gyeongnam’s Marcão and Gangwon’s Uroš Ðerić were tied on ten goals each before kickoff. Ðerić scored the only goal of the game to give Gangwon a one-nil win and push himself to the top of the K League goalscorers chart.

However, the game will be remembered for Lee Geun-ho’s injury on 52 minutes. The national team forward was stretching to try and tap the ball into the Gyeongnam net, but fell awkwardly and picked up an injury that ruled him out of the World Cup and damaged South Korea’s chances of reaching the knock-out rounds.

Previous Meetings

Gangwon ended a run of four straight defeats when these two sides last met towards the end of April. Uroš Ðerić scored a hattrick and Jung Seok-hwa scored a cracking free kick to put Gangwon four goals up before Kim Young-wook got a late consolation goal for the home side. Gangwon’s performance was made more impressive as they played the second half with just ten men after goalkeeper Kim Ho-jun picked up a straight red card for a silly foul. Two of Gangwon’s assists, including a very nice piece of skill for the opening goal, came from Lee Geun-ho.

Team News

The team news this week is more of a transfer update. The big news, of course, is that Gangwon’s star player Lee Geun-ho has left the club. He rejoins Ulsan Hyundai where he won the Asian Champions’ League. Gangwon have yet to replace Lee Geun-ho, but have been looking, and are rumoured to have made some large bids to try and bring in a replacement. 

Joining Gangwon is Moon Chang-jin, who rejoined the club just before the World Cup after a short spell in Dubai. The former Under-23 international scored six goals in 18 starts for Gangwon during the 2017 season.

Gangwon’s next four games are all against teams below them in the table, and they will be hoping for a strong start to the second half of the season to give them a shot at finishing in the top four.

The Adversary

Dragons’ head coach Yoo Sang-chul has strengthened his squad over the summer break with the addition of three new players, hoping the new recruits can help push his side away from the drop zone. Former Melbourne Victory centre back James Donachie was brought in to replace fellow Australian Tomislav Mrcela, who departed in May.  Donachie, measuring over six-foot four, helped Melbourne win the A-League last season and the 25-year-old should slot straight into the Dragons’ team. And fellow new signing, Heo Jae-won, may join him in defense this weekend, too. The 34-year-old wing-back returns to the K League after spending the last couple of years plying his trade in Malaysia. 

Meanwhile, the Dragons’ third new recruit, Lee Sang-hyun, boosts their midfield ranks. And the exciting 20-year-old attacking midfielder, drafted in from Ulsan Hyundai, should get more chances to shine in Jeonnam as Yoo Sang-chul has shown this season he has no qualms about throwing raw talent (like striker Kim Kyung-min) into his teams. However, Lee will probably have to settle for a place on the bench against Gangwon on Sunday.

The new-look Dragons, who also welcome back wing-back Choi Jae-hyun after a long injury layoff, have travelled well this season, and thus will be confident of picking up at least a point this Sunday evening.

One To Watch




Moon Chang-jin is back! The Gangwon playmaker made the surprise move to Al Ahli Dubai in October 2017 after buying out his Gangwon contract. But apparently there was some clause that meant the boys from Chuncheon had first dibs on him should he return to Korea (it was a complicated deal). Anyway, he is back with Gangwon now and will be hoping to carry on where he left off. Moon Chang-jin has previously played for the Korean Olympic team, and he won the K League with Pohang before moving to Gangwon the first time around. 


Prediction

The World Cup break makes it hard to judge these two teams based on form. But if Gangwon spent the summer break working on their defense, then they should be in with a good shout of winning this match, even without Lee Geun-ho.

Steve's Prediction: Gangwon 2 : Jeonnam 1

Aodan's Prediction: Gangwon 1 : Jeonnam 1

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