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Preview: Asan Mugunghwa vs Busan IPark

Preview: Asan Mugunghwa vs Busan Park K League 2
After a thrilling win at home to Anyang last weekend, Busan IPark head to Asan on Sunday with the aim of closing the six-point gap between them and the top of the K League 2 table. Boasting the division's best defence, the military boys of Mugunhwa will be hoping to end a horrid run against the visiting seasiders, a team they haven't beaten in their last ten attempts.
(image via K League)

Last Time Out

Busan IPark edged out league stragglers FC Anyang in a seven-goal thriller last Sunday. Busan played some great football in the first twenty minutes and raced away into a two-goal lead after excellent crosses from Lee Jong-min and Arsenio Valpoort were converted from close range by Ko Kyung-min. For a while it looked like Busan would run away with the game but Anyang pulled a goal back through Kim Won-min before the break to set up an action-packed second half.

Busan restored their two-goal lead five minutes after the restart when Lee Jae-kwon played Han Ji-ho through on goal and the winger's delicate lob over the keeper was somehow missed by the two covering defenders. Anyang's immediate introduction of Wesley Alex changed the game, however, and a mistake by defender Jeong Ho-jeong allowed the lively Brazilian to make it 3-2 and set up a spell of domination by the visitors. The comeback was complete after 65 minutes when Kim Chi-woo handled inside the box and Alex sent Busan keeper Koo Sang-min the wrong way.

Both sides created chances to win the game but it was Ko Kyung-min who eventually stepped up with the game's decisive moment, firing a fierce left-footed shot into the bottom corner from twenty-five yards to complete his hat-trick and keep the points in Busan. You can watch highlights of that game here.

Asan Mugunghwa, meanwhile, missed the chance to leapfrog Seongnam to the top of the table after being held to a 0-0 draw with fifth-placed Bucheon. Click here to watch the highlights.

Previous Meetings

Kim Jin-gyu scored the winner when these sides met in March at the Gudeok Stadium, but spoils were shared last time out when an injury-time strike from Ko Kyung-min cancelled out Han Eui-gwon's opener.

Last year these teams met five times, and Asan failed to win a single game. Two meetings finished in draws and Busan won the other three, the last of which was a 3-0 playoff victory in which young winger Lee Dong-jun announced himself with two goals after coming off the bench.

Team News

Busan coach Choi Yoon-gyeom is likely to field a similar team to the one that beat Anyang last weekend. Brazilian playmaker Romulo will return to partner Lee Jae-kwon in the centre of midfield after serving a one-match ban for his red card against Ansan Greeners. Kim Jin-gyu, who deputised for Romulo last weekend, could be pushed further forward to replace winger Kim Moon-hwan, who is with the Korea U23 team for the Asian Games.

Asan playmaker Hwang In-beom, one of Korea's most promising midfield talents, is also away with the national team. Ju Se-jong should take his place in midfield after missing the game against Bucheon.

Who To Watch 

Ju Se-jong (C) is in his first year of military service with Asan (image via K League)

A 23 year-old Ju Se-jong broke into the Busan IPark team in the summer of 2014 and became an instant fan favourite. An energetic, hard-working midfielder with an excellent passing range and a fierce shot, Ju went on to become Busan's most important player for the next year and a half. He was one of Busan's few quality performers in a 2015 season that ended in their relegation to K2, and his form earned him a move to FC Seoul, where he continued to develop into one of Korea's most talented central midfielders.

Despite returning to the second division to complete his military service with Asan Mugunghwa, Ju was included in this summer's World Cup squad for Korea and performed creditably as a starter against Mexico before making a vital contribution off the bench in the historic win over Germany. Dispossessing German keeper Manuel Neuer just outside the Korean penalty area deep into extra time, Ju launched a long ball towards the unguarded German net and allowed Son Heung-min to tap in Korea's second goal and complete one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. Now returning to face the club where he started his professional career, Ju will have a lot of opposition fans watching on who wouldn't begrudge him a good performance.

For Busan, veteran goal-poacher Ko Kyung-min had a game to remember last week after scoring a perfect hat-trick (right foot, head, left foot) to win the game for his team. Despite rarely playing as an out-and-out striker, Ko has been scoring regularly in the K2 for years; in fact, he averaged just over ten goals a season between 2013 and 2017 and now looks to be on course to keep those numbers up this year. In and out of the team at the start of the season, Ko has nailed down a place in the hole behind the main striker over the past two months, and with six goals in his last nine games he is a man in form.

Prediction

Busan played some of their best attacking football of the season against Anyang last weekend but Asan is a wholly different proposition. They have the best defence in the division, are on a run of three clean sheets in a row, and have real quality in Ju Se-jong, Lee Myung-joo and Ko Moo-yeol. I'm going for a repeat of May's 1-1 draw.

Asan Mugunghwa 1-1 Busan IPark



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