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FA Cup Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Chuncheon City

K League 1's bottom side Jeonnam Dragons welcome K3 Advanced team Chuncheon City to Gwangyang Football Stadium this Wednesday evening at 7 pm in the fifth round of the FA cup. Can the Dragons put their awful league form behind them and advance to the quarter final of their favourite tournament? Or will K League fourth-tier club Chuncheon spring another famous cup surprise? Aodan Halligan previews this midweek game.

Game: Jeonnam Dragons v Chuncheon City
Venue: Gwangyang Football Stadium
Kickoff: Wednesday 7 pm

Last Time Out

Jeonnam Dragons slumped to a second successive home defeat against Ulsan Hyundai in round 21 of K League 1 in the sweltering heat last Sunday evening. However, unlike most other home losses this season, this was a game that they should have got something from.

The visitors started the brighter, though, and it took them just 11 minutes to breach Jeonnam keeper Lee Ho-seung's net though Lim Jong-eun. And even though Lim's header was beautifully placed into the top-right corner of the net, Dragons' midfielder Han Chan-hee could hardly have made things any easier for the Ulsan central defender as he inexplicably lost track off him while marking him for a corner - leaving Lee with a free header from the edge of the six-yard box. The Jeonnam players looked more grateful for the 'cooling break' half way though the first half, but Ulsan kept the heat on the home side when play resumed. Brazilian forward Junior Negao wasted the visitors' best opportunity before half time, losing his balance after rounding Dragons' Keeper Lee. And moments later Wanderson, one of the Dragons' Brazilians, spurned a rare opportunity at the other end, side-footing the ball straight at the keeper from around 12 yards out after good work from Han Chan-hee and Yang Jun-ah.

In the second half, the Dragons started on the front foot and in the 50th minute Wanderson curled in a free kick from the edge of the penalty box with his left foot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net. Oh Seung-hoon's positioning must be questioned for the goal, however, as the Ulsan goalkeeper stood directly behind his wall and was unsighted until the ball was on its way in. Dragons' substitute Macedo squandered a couple of chances after that and the cooling break was a welcome relief to the visitors this time round. But with the home side looking the most likely winners, Hwang Il-soo cut in beautifully from the right wing in the 85th minute, sold Lee Seul-chan a couple of step-overs and then curled a weak left-foot strike past Dragons' keeper Lee Ho-seung from around 22 yards out into the bottom-left corner of the net. Once again there were question marks over the goalkeeping, though, as even in real time it appeared the keeper had dived too early and the shot lacked the power to trouble most goalkeepers. However, the visitors weren't complaining and after Macedo missed another good chance to equalize at the death, Ulsan Hyundai became the seventh team this season to leave Gwangyang with all three points.

Full time: Jeonnam Dragons 1 Ulsan Hyundai 2

Team News

Jeonnam Dragons will most likely be without the services of wing-back Lee Seul-chan on Wednesday night as he was stretchered off with cramp in the defeat to Ulsan on Sunday. Attacker Heo Yong-joon's also likely to miss out with an ankle injury and Croatian midfielder Vedran Jugovic may not be risked as he's missed the last five games though injury and didn't even make the squad last Sunday. With the Dragons' third game in seven days in mind this Sunday, an away trip to Changwon to play in-form Gyeongnam FC in round 22 of K League 1, head coach Yoo Sang-chul will probably make a number of changes to his lineup against Chuncheon. Therefore, three substitutes from last Sunday, Australian defender James Donachie, Brazilian striker Macedo and 21-year-old Korean striker Kim Young-min should make the starting eleven on Wednesday.

The Adversary

Chuncheon City currently lie third in the K3 Advanced table and have won four of their last five games. And the Gangwon side should be a lot fresher than the Dragons as they haven't been in action since their 2-1 FA cup fourth round victory over Daejon Korail on July 25th.  Chuncheon last tasted defeat on July 7th, a 2-1 loss away to promotion rivals Pocheon, and have won three games on the spin since. Can they make it four on Wednesday?

Who To Watch

Chuncheon midfielder Kim Pil-ho could be key to their chances of pulling off a memorable cup upset in Gwangyang. In fact, Kim has bagged more goals in his last four games than any Dragons' player has scored all season. The midfielder hit the back of the net four times in his last four matches and thus may cause the leaky home rearguard some problems.

Dragons' Issues

Head coach Yoo Sang-chul saw his side slip to the bottom of K League 1 table on Sunday and with all the teams around them improving, will this be the season that the Dragons finally fall from the top-tier of Korean football? Dragons' fans certainly hope not as the word on the street is that POSCO are unwilling to invest as much into the side as times gone by so if Jeonnam slip into K League 2, there's a very big chance they could stay there.

And while young prospects like Lee Sang-hyeon and Kim Kyung-min have blossomed under Yoo's tutelage, more experienced players have regressed and fans are starting to question the former Korean World Cup star's coaching pedigree. Yoo's home record is appalling as Jeonnam have only picked up eight points out of a possible 33 (24% of the points on offer) this season. In contrast, Noh Sang-rae's Dragons picked up 31 points from 57 last season (54% of the points available) - and these points went a long way towards ensuring their top-flight survival. Furthermore, Yoo has only used his foreign signings sparingly (only one started in the defeat to Ulsan last Sunday). Teams like newly promoted Gyeongnam FC have highlighted how important it is to make your foreign signings count and Jeonnam should be getting a lot more return for their investment.

Admittedly, Yoo's had to deal with a lot of injuries - especially up top - and his team weren't tipped to do much after just about managing to avoid relegation last season; nevertheless, his chopping and changing of the side and insistence on sticking with 3-4-3 - a formation that proved disastrous for the Dragons last year - hasn't helped matters this season. Of course, there's still time to turn things round as we're barely past the halfway point of the season and a good cup run could be on the cards, but preserving top flight status is vital for the club's long-term future and as things stand, it looks like this could be a real struggle.


Despite their poor home form, Jeonnam will have a lot of experience in their lineup on Wednesday evening and the three-time FA cup winners should prove too strong for Chuncheon in the first ever meeting between the two sides.

Jeonnam 3 Chuncheon City 1

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