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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Incheon United

Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Incheon United
Gwangyang Football Stadium is the venue this Saturday evening at 7:30 for a relegation six-pointer between Jeonnam Dragons and Incheon United. Can Jeonnam put some more daylight between themselves and the visitors or will an improving Incheon be able to climb above their relegation rivals in the table? Aodan Halligan and Tim Barnes preview this weekend's huge game.
(Image via K League)

Last Time Out

Jeonnam and Incheon both enjoyed rare victories midweek to advance to the last 16 of the FA Cup. The Dragons' win was perhaps the more impressive of the two, though, as not only were they paired away to fellow K League 1 side Pohang Steelers, they were also deprived of the services of Ha Tae-goon, Kim Kyung-min and Heo Yong-joon -  head coach Yoo Sang-chul's three favorite strikers this season - through injuries. However, out of favour Brazilian striker Macedo stepped up in the Steelyard to give the Dragons their first victory over the Steelers in almost two years and send them through to the next next round of the cup where they'll face Daejeon Korail in Gwangyang.

Incheon United also advanced to the next round courtesy of a 2-0 victory over FC Pocheon. Lim Eun-su and Kim Dong-suk scored the goals for K League 1's bottom side who managed to record back-to-back victories for the first time since August 2017. Incheon's victory earned them a home tie against Mokpo in the fifth round.

Previous Meetings

The honours were shared the last time Jeonnam and Incheon met in Sungui Arena Park in Incheon on April 7th. Stefan Mugoša gave Incheon the lead in the ninth minute, but an own goal from Park Jong-jin in the 31st minute restored parity.  The home supporters sensed victory in the 56th minute, though, when Jeonnam's Han Chan-hee received his marching orders. And the Incheon fans were in raptures after Mugoša 91st-minute strike had put them back in front. However, the Dragons refused to lie down and Choi Jae-hyun's 96th minute equalizer gave them a very valuable point. 

The Dragons haven't lost to United in three years and also boast the better head-to-head record. The sides have met 44 times in total and Jeonnam have recorded 13 victories, whereas Incheon have only managed 11. The remaining 20 ties between the teams ended up as draws. 

Team News 

 Heo Yong-joon was stretchered off against Pohang (Image via K League)

Heo Yong-joon became the latest attacker to join Jeonnam's injury list last week. The 25-year-old midfielder was stretchered off with an ankle injury in the 3-1 league defeat to Pohang and could be out for a couple of months. And with fellow attackers Ha Tae-goon and Kim Kyung-min also doubtful, Macedo may be given his first league start since the 0-0 draw against league leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors on May 5th. The striker, who scored the winning goal in the fourth round FA cup tie against Pohang on Wednesday, has bagged three goals in total this season - placing him alongside Choi Jae-hyun as the club's joint top-scorer and thus surely deserves to start. Meanwhile, Croatian midfielder Vedran Jugović returned to the training ground today, but may have to wait another week or so to return to the team. As for Incheon, Moon Seonmin should start - if fit - and Appiah-Kubi could make the bench. No players are suspended.

The Adversary

Incheon United have found some form in the last week. First, beating local rivals FC Seoul in the Gyeongin Derby 2-1, and then easing past K3 League side FC Pocheon 2-0 in the FA Cup. Incheon are still bottom of the league, but only a single point behind Daegu FC. Incheon’s main weakness all season has been an awful defence with the worst defensive record in the league.

Norwegian manager Jørn Andersen seems to have found his groove in the K League in recent games, however. So heading into the game against Jeonnam Dragons there shouldn't be too many changes to the starting which beat FC Seoul

-Tim Barnes

Who To Watch

                                           
Elias Aguilar has five assists and two goals in the league this season (image via K League)

Based on recent league games, Costa Rican midfielder has been Elias Aguilar has been a real danger moving forward. He has been the main creative outlet for Incheon this season. Also, Moon Seonmin scored the winner against FC Seoul at the weekend. His recent form might lead to him staying in the Korea squad for the friendlies later in the summer.

-Tim Barnes

Predictions

Tim: Incheon have improved recently, but you can’t forget about their poor overall season. Jeonnam aren’t playing any better and so this should be a close game. I see it ending in a draw, 1-1, maybe even 0-0


Aodan: Both teams will be buoyed by recent victories so it should be a close game. However, Incheon have less injuries and look to be in the better shape, overall.


Jeonnam Dragons 1 Incheon United 2





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