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Preview: Gwangju FC vs Busan IPark

 Fifth-place Gwangju FC and third-place Busan IPark meet this Saturday in a battle of the K2 promotion chasers. Unbeaten in ten, Gwangju will be looking to make up ground on a Busan team that looked out-of-sorts last weekend.

Last Time Out

Busan IPark's five-game unbeaten run in the league came to end last Saturday at the Gudeok Stadium. Visitors Suwon FC continued their excellent form and were well worth the three points against a toothless Busan team.

Baek Sung-dong, a former Korean international, scored the only goal of a game with a whipped free-kick from out wide that evaded everyone inside the box and bounced into Koo Sang-min's goal after 15 minutes. Suwon did have the ball in the net again five minutes later, but Alex Bruno's finish was disallowed for offside after a VAR check.

Busan did push for an equaliser but Kim Jin-gyu and Ko Kyung-min's efforts were excellently saved by Kim Da-sol, and Kim Chi-woo looked destined to score when well placed inside the box, but his shot was blocked. Then, in stoppage time, Han Ji-ho failed to connect properly with Romulo's corner with the goal gaping from six yards. The result moved Suwon up to fourth and left Busan seven points adrift of leaders Asan Mugunghwa.

Fifth-placed Gwangju FC, meanwhile, stretched their unbeaten run to ten games with a 0-0 draw away to Anyang. It was their fourth consecutive draw and the result leaves them one point behind Suwon.

Previous Meetings

Busan and Gwangju have met twice already this season. The first game, in Busan, ended in a 1-0 victory for the visitors with the league's top scorer Na Sang-ho netting the winner. At their last meeting, July's game at the Gwangju World Cup Stadium, spoils were shared as Kim Myung-joon's opener was cancelled out by Lim Min-hyeok.

Team News

Busan could make changes in defence after last week's defeat to Suwon. In that game, centre-back Yeon Jei-min came off at half-time for left-back Ku Hyeon-Joon, and central midfielder Lee Jae-kwon filled in as a makeshift centre-back. Against Gwangju, Park Tae-hong could return to partner Kim Myung-joon in the centre of defence, while Jeong Ho-jeong is also an option after returning from injury. Captain Lee Jong-min should return in place of Park Joon-gang at right-back.

Elsewhere, Kim Hyun-sung made his first appearance in almost a month last weekend and will compete with Choi Seung-in for the striker's role.

Both teams will still be without their players away at the Asian Games. Gwangju will have to do without top scorer Na Sang-ho, while Busan are without winger Kim Moon-hwan, whose form at right-back for the U-23s was rewarded with a call-up to the senior team by new Korea coach Paulo Bento.

Who To Watch 


Busan left-back Kim Chi-woo may be approaching his 35th birthday but he's still one of the first names on the Busan team sheet and one of the league's best full-backs. Although he was never selected for a World Cup squad, Kim made 28 appearances for his country between 2006 and 2013, scoring 5 goals along the way. After spending the majority of his career with FC Seoul in the K1, Kim has been one of Busan's most consistent performers after moving to the south coast in January. Defensively sound, Kim also has an excellent cross and he likes to bomb forward, as he showed last week when moved up to left-wing as Busan searched for an equaliser. Busan will need all of his experience to get past an in-form Gwangju side.

Prediction

Gwangju are on an impressive unbeaten run and Busan came unstuck last weekend against a similarly well-organised and in-form Suwon team. Gwangju will be disappointed, however, that they failed to beat the likes of Seoul E-Land and FC Anyang recently, and without top-scorer Na Sang-ho goals may be harder to come by. I expect a reaction from Busan after an off-colour performance last week, but Gwangju won't be easy to beat.

Gwangju FC 1-1 Busan IPark



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