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FA Cup Writers' Chat: FC Seoul Vs Jeju United

Preview: FC Seoul Vs Jeju United FA Cup Round 5
The only all-K League 1 of the round will be at Sangam where 2015 FA Cup winners, FC Seoul, take on Jeju United. Jeju have never won the FA Cup and will be looking to get back to winning ways after a run of six games without victory including a 3-0 defeat to Seoul in the league on Saturday.

Paul Neat Asks, Branko Belan Answers

Paul Neat: Of course, these two sides only met a few days ago for what was a rather forgettable evening for Jeju - a 3-0 defeat which then left the islanders six games without a win. Accordingly, how do you see Cho Sunghwan approaching Wednesday's game? Do you think the FA Cup is high up in his list of priorities?

Branko Belan: To be honest, I am not entirely sure what is on his list of priorities at the moment. It's not as if he fielded a poor lineup against Seoul on the weekend; it was very much a full strength lineup, as I had predicted to be the case beforehand. The approach to Wednesday's tie cannot change - it's cup football, and that means there are no excuses at this point, only a win will suffice. I would imagine that Cho will once again look to field his strongest possible lineup, but things have to get cleaned up after the performance at the weekend. Once Kweon Han-jin scored the own goal, the wheels seemed to come off a bit, and Jeju never really got themselves back into the match. Even by the time Matić got sent off for the red, it didn't really change much.

I'm a bit critical about the tactics that Cho used on Saturday night as well. This team needs to play wider on the flanks in order to prevent getting hit on the counter-attack. The formation that was used doesn't seem to pay dividends, as it leaves the players bunched on the pitch, thus making it difficult to utilise the ball effectively in the attacking third. If the FA Cup was not a priority at or near the top of his list, it should be now for Cho, as the season is already starting to slip away, and any chance for continental competition for next season is fading fast.

PN: You have been critical of Cho due to how the team has performed this season, would an FA Cup run save him his job/buy him some time? What's been the problem? Is it too easy just to say a lack of goals?

BB: An FA Cup win might save his job, at least it would buy him a bit of time. But, I would have to think that patience is starting to wear a bit thin, as Jeju have lost the momentum they had going into the World Cup break. The team's form is starting to mirror the early part of the campaign, which saw the islanders get out of the gate very slowly, and another similar run is on the verge of jeopardising their season right now.

As for what the problem has been, well, there have been many.  First of all, there is a lack of organisation with this team. Certain players just don't seem to fit into the concept that Cho is trying to put forth, and when you combine that with defensive lapses and a lack of goals up front, it's a recipe for disaster. Second, consistency has been a problem in terms of players being rotated too much. I get the feeling that there is too much tinkering going on at the moment, and the results have been nothing short of unspectacular. Guys cannot gel if they are not playing together on a regular basis.  Third, I think this team has trust issues. Cho doesn't seem to trust his players enough, as evidenced by the frequent rotation in the squad lately, and the players themselves don't seem to be playing for each other, and that has only served to exacerbate the problem. Results are going to be very hard to come by if this team cannot function as a unit. Lee Chang-keun cannot be expected to be the hero every time Jeju takes the pitch - the guys in front of him need to step up.

PN: After Saturday, do you think there will be wholesale changes to the team? 

BB: At this point, nothing would surprise me. I find it really frustrating that even with a full lineup, they were not even able to make a game of it. Then there's the issue of two-thirds of your back line costing the team a result which they badly needed. There is not a lot of time to get ready for this one, and if things are going to change for the better for the rest of the season, it has to start now. 

Any team news we should be made aware of?

BB: Jeju had been one of the better defensive teams in the league up to Saturday night, but with Kweon Han-jin scoring an own goal, and Kim Won-il sent off two minutes before time for a second yellow card, it's safe to say that the back line is badly jangled at the moment. Playing three at the back is starting to have a negative effect on the team, and it would be interesting to see if Cho will go with four across in the defensive third for the cup tie on Wednesday. 

As you noted in our preview for the league match, Jeju does not have success against Seoul, and although they have mostly been good away from home this season, it's difficult to say with confidence that Jeju can go out and get a result, but stranger things have happened. The team needs to focus heavily to be prepared for this one - if they win, they progress, if not, then they only have themselves to blame for not coming with a gamebplan to get a win.

PN: Score Prediction?

BB: Judging by the result a few days ago, I don't predict good things to come from this match for Jeju. Seoul can gain more momentum for their league campaign with progress to the final eight in the cup, and I think they will have enough to get it done. Jeju just can't seem to put it together at the moment. At this rate, they will be lucky to finish in the top half of the table the way things are going.  They simply don't have urgency about them, so I think Seoul is good for the win. I can't be sure of a final score, but I am certain of which team will progress, but it will all play out on the pitch on Wednesday night.

Branko Belan Asks, Paul Neat Answers

Branko Belan: Bojan Matić scored his first goal for Seoul in the win over Jeju, but was then sent off twenty minutes later.  He will be eligible to play as it is a cup match, so what kind of impact can he have for Seoul in attack? What are his strengths/weaknesses?

Paul Neat: It's quite unique how league suspensions don't count for the FA Cup and vise versa and for Matić himself, it will probably come as a bit of a relief. I thought the red card was harsh on Saturday, granted his arm was out but I don't think there is any malice in the challenge. Because he has just joined the club and got his first goal at the weekend, I'd expect him to keep his place. Lee Eulyong will be hoping that the first goal will be the first of many and so the last thing anybody will have wanted is for any chance to disrupt any momentum. Granted, he will have to serve a suspension but as he is available for the immediate next game it might just make him more determined to score.

Matić has played a handful of games for Seoul now and he looks to be settling in fairly well. He has good movement, good vision and, given how he struck the ball and what kind of position he was in, seems to know where the back of the net is.

I spoke Miloš Marković, a Serbian football expert from Sportske.net who gives a comprehensive account of what kind of player he is here.

BB: Do you foresee a different starting eleven for the cup tie? Are there some prospects in the side who might get a run out?

PN: Manager Lee Eulyong fielded a strong team against Gyeongnam in the fourth round and will be expected to do so again on Wednesday. Much like Jeju, the FA Cup ought to be taken seriously and be prioritised. Also, given how Saturday's match went down, it could be a great opportunity for FC Seoul to get into the last eight. I would expect the team to be similar to that which played on Saturday. Song Jinhyung has made his return from injury now having come on as a substitute against Gyeongnam in the league, he might be in line for a start as too could new signing from Pohang Steelers Jung Wonjin.

As for the younger players, there's the likes of Kim Hangil who has been on the periphery and is likely to be in the squad at least. Elsewhere, full back Park Dongjin as well as attacking midfielder/winger Cho Youngwook are both really promising players.They have both been regulars in the first team and have performed very well, the latter in particular who has made the step up from university football to the professional game with ease.

BB: It could be said that Jeju beat themselves on Saturday night with too many mistakes at the back.  What sort of gameplan will Seoul rely on going into the match? How can they beat Jeju without the islanders inflicting damage upon themselves?

PN: Seoul have performed better when they have been proactive in games and gone and got an early goal, or at least a goal in the first half - especially at home. If the likes of Go Yohan and Cho Youngwook, if selected, can get on the ball and look to find Anderson or Evandro in the channels then Seoul can cause Jeju some problems.

Go Yohan's versatility is a real asset to have but I think this also hurts him a little bit, for club and country. He seldom plays in the same position for more than a couple of games on the spin. Last Saturday for instance, he played as a left winger whereas the week before he was at right wing-back. If he is in the centre of midfield he can drive the ball forward, no other FC Seoul midfielder, Cho Youngwook aside, can do that. Shin Jinho, Jung Hyeoncheol, and Hwang Kiwook all have their qualities, they can pass the ball, but Go Yohan carries the ball into advanced positions and, with his close control, can be dangerous.

BB: Seoul went all the way to penalties against Gyeongnam in the fourth round, and I am sure the goal is to avoid such a scenario again. If you had to choose one player right now, who has match-winning potential for Seoul?

PN: Go Yohan has shown that he is a match winner either by scoring goals himself or creating goal-scoring opportunities for others. He is key for FC Seoul and is in great form at the moment, to the point where it is almost a certainty that will either be on the score sheet or be credited with an assist for someone else that is.

BB: Score Prediction?

PN: FC Seoul 2-1 Jeju United

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