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Preview: Jeju United vs Gyeongnam FC

K league 1 Round 16 Preview: Jeju United vs Gyeongnam FC

Jeju United go into their first midweek game following the World Cup break having jumped to second in the table following a 3-2 victory away to Suwon at the weekend.  Gyeongnam also beat Pohang by a score of 2-0, and will look to build on their success against the islanders earlier in the season.  K League United's Branko Belan and James Edrupt look ahead to the match.

Match: Jeju United vs Gyeongnam FC
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Wednesday July 11th, 2018, 19:30 KST

Last Time Out

Suwon Bluewings 2-3 Jeju United

Both teams started the match brightly, but it was Jeju who went into the lead on 22 minutes when Kweon Han-jin headed in from close range from a free kick after a foul on Park Jin-po.  Suwon's best chance of the half came after Magno Cruz went into the book, but Lee Ki-je's free kick was turned away by Lee Chang-keun.

The second half roared into life with the teams exchanging two goals each.  Suwon knotted the match at one through Lee after some confusion in the area, firing a low shot into the corner.  It would not last long, however, as Magno Cruz put the visitors back in front on the hour mark.  Suwon would even the proceedings with a quarter of an hour to go through Yang Sang-min, but Kweon once again found the net two minutes before time.

The loss demonstrated how much Matthew Jurman will be missed at the back for the Bluewings, as a costly defensive blunder between No Dong-goen and Kim Jong-min led to Jeju's winning goal.  The islanders will hope to consolidate their grip on second as they are now unbeaten in their last four.

Highlights: here

Gyeongnam FC 2-0 Pohang Steelers

Gyeongnam looked solid in their return to action against Pohang.  It would only take two minutes before they went into the lead, as Jo Jae-cheol found the back of the net, getting a neat deflection on a ball in front, leaving goalkeeper Kang Hyun-moo with no chance to make the save.

Both teams would have their fair share of the ball and chances until the break, and Gyeongnam would have been in front by more than a goal if not for some key saves by Kang who redeemed himself after his side went behind early.

A defensive error would lead to Gyeongnam's second, as Negueba intercepted a clearing attempt, chested the ball down, and fired home from close range after 67 minutes.  

Pohang did not present much of a threat the rest of the way, and the end result could have been a lot worse had Kang not come to the rescue again the second half.  Gyeongnam are now level on points with Suwon, while Pohang don't look like a team that will mount much of a challenge the rest of the way based on their current form, having won only once since the beginning of May.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

The teams met very early in the season with Gyeongnam coming away with a 2-0 win, thanks to goals from Negueba and Kunimoto. Jeju had gone down to ten men just before half-time with Cho Yong-hyung getting a straight red for a nasty foul.

The overall series is quite close, with Gyeongnam having a slight edge overall having won nine times to Jeju's eight, with two matches ending in a draw.  This is going to be a pivotal match for both teams.  Jeju's form at home this season has improved a lot, while Gyeongnam have been a force to contend with while on the road, so something will have to give.

Team News

Jeju United currently have no suspensions going into this game, and can welcome back Kim Sang-won back to the fold if they so choose after the defender sat out the last two league games due to his red card against Jeonnam.

Gyeongnam can also welcome back Japanese midfielder Kunimoto to the fold after his recent suspension due to yellow card accumulation, but will lose defender Park Ji-soo after he picked up his third booking of the season against Pohang last time out.


The Adversary



Kim Jung-boo’s side visit the island in great spirits after a dominant 2-0 victory over a lackluster Pohang Steelers outfit last Saturday evening.  What was even more impressive about the win was that they did so without their two mainstays in the Reds' starting eleven in Japanese playmaker Kunimoto and striker Marcao.  Kunimoto was serving a one game ban after accumulating three yellow cards and Marcao just quite wasn’t one hundred percent, having to sit out due to a niggling thigh strain.  Both should be available for selection for this game.  Marcao will be fit enough only for a place on the bench.
 
Three of the southerners' new signings were thrown into first team action from the start.  Left back Min Joon-young started on the left side of defense and had a solid debut.  Cho Young-cheol came with a lot of experience and started into the right side of the midfield and did his job manfully in the first half before being replaced early in the second.  The pick of the debutants was Lee Gwang-jin who instantly formed a great midfield partnership with captain Choi Young-jun in the middle of the park.  He wasn’t afraid to put himself about and he nearly scored, but his late free kick cannoned off the crossbar and out to safety.   New Brazilian signing Paulinho came on after 50 minutes and looked the part, linking well with striker Kim Hyo-gi very well.

Have Gyeongnam unearthed another gem from overseas?  Only time will tell with him.  Negueba was a thorn in the side for Steelers' fullbacks all evening and he looked in great form in the first match back after the World Cup break.  He will be vital for the Reds from now to the end of the season if they want to remain in the hunt for an ACL spot.  This Wednesday's clash with Jeju United will be a much sterner test than what Gyeongnam faced last Saturday.  It's places like this, that if Gyeongnam want to be challenging at the top of K League 1 they have to getting something from every match.

Prediction

Both teams looked impressive in winning last weekend, and both will be looking for another big three points to stay in the running for league honors at season's end.  While it's still much too early to talk about a title with so much of the season left, there is also the possibility of automatic qualification for the Champions League if both teams can maintain high form.

Jeju were more than lackluster in the first match between the two, even if it was only the second match of the season for both teams, so they will definitely look to improve on their first time out against their visitors on Saturday.  It will be a close, tight contest, but the hosts should have enough quality to pull it out.

Prediction: Jeju United 2-1 Gyeongnam FC

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