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Preview: Jeju United vs Pohang Steelers

K League 1 Preview: Jeju United vs Pohang Steelers

Jeju United host Pohang Steelers on Saturday evening on the island desperately looking to turn their season around, coming into the match on a six game winless string.  Pohang, meanwhile, have won three matches since the league resumed in July, and now find themselves back in the hunt for a spot in the Championship round.  Both teams are equal on points in the table, so it will be a pivotal match for both clubs.  KLU's Branko Belan and Ross Davis sat down to share their expectations ahead of the encounter.

Match: Jeju United vs Pohang Steelers
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday August 11th, 2018; 19:00 KST

Last Time Out

FC Seoul 3-0 Jeju United

Jeju's current disastrous run got a lot worse last weekend when they crashed to a 3-0 defeat away to FC Seoul.  The hosts were the quicker team out of the blocks and caused Jeju's back line a wealth of problems with balls over the top into the box, but they could not find a goal.  Jeju would pick up their play midway through as Tiago was able to get in behind the Seoul defence, but lacked the finishing ability to put the visitors in front.  The match would turn when Kweon Han-jin scored into his own net, deflecting a low cross from the left past Lee Chang-keun.  The islanders would continue to press for an equalizer before the half, but the home side went into the break up one.

Jeju could have drawn level only a minute into the second half when Magno and Tiago combined in the final third, but Tiago was in too close on Yang Han-been to manage a significant effort, as the 'keeper comfortably pulled the ball into his grasp.  The breakthrough would come for Seoul in the 52nd minute thanks to a turnover which promptly sent the hosts on the counter down the right.  Another low ball was played into the area and found its way to new signing Bojan Matic, who comfortably slotted the ball home to double the advantage.

Jeju could have pulled one back in the 65th minute when Magno released Tiago down the left side, but the tall Brazilian's effort from just outside the box fizzed over the bar.  Seoul would go down to ten men five minutes later when Matic landed an elbow to the face of Park Jin-po.  After a VAR review, the Serbian was shown a direct red.  The man advantage did not serve Jeju well, as they too went down to ten with minutes to play when Kim Won-il raked Go Yo-han to the face in an aerial duel and was served with his second yellow card of the match.  

The Seoul skipper would exact a measure of revenge in injury time as the home side struck on the counter.  He turned Oh Ban-suk before getting a shot on goal, and while Lee made the initial save, Sin Jin-ho was on the doorstep to mop up the rebound and seal a comprehensive victory for the side from the nation's capital, and could prove important down the stretch if they are to get back into the conversation for continental football next season.

Highlights: here

Incheon United 1-2 Pohang Steelers

Pohang went on the road to Incheon and came away with a last gasp victory with a goal in the third minute of injury time to give the Steelers their third win since league play resumed in July.  It was Incheon who enjoyed the bulk of the possession and chances in the first twenty-five minutes, and Moon Seon-min could have put them in front from in close, but Kang Hyun-moo was able to parry the effort without difficulty.  Moon then headed the rebound across goal, but it was cleared off the line.  Moon and Stefan Mugosa combined on the counter just before halftime, but Moon's effort floated wide of the far post, and the sides went to the break goalless.

Pohang came out the stronger in the second half and controlled much of the play for long stretches in the early going, but could not manage to get a shot on target.  They could have gone behind in the 77th minute, but luckily, Kang Sang-woo's deflection in the direction of his own goal finished wide of the post.  Kang was then called on to make the save of the match only minutes later when he denied Mugosa's header from point blank range.  That would spur the Steelers to press forward in an attempt to grab the lead, which they would do in the 86th minute, when Lee Sang-ki was played into space after Lee Keun-ho hustled to keep the attack alive, and his low shot deflected off the foot of Kim Dong-min and into the net, sending the traveling fans into a frenzy.  

Incheon would not bow out easily, as they found an equalizer only a minute from time through Kwabena Appiah, who was unmarked in the box and slotted the ball home from inside the six yard box to draw the hosts level.  It would not be a share of the spoils, however, as Kim Gwang-seok rose above the defence and latched on to Lee Kwang-hyuk's cross to head home the winner.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

The two teams met earlier this season with Jeju coming away with victory by a single goal on the road in a midweek fixture in the final week of April.  Pohang dominated for long stretches in the match, but Oh Ban-suk would score the only goal of the match just after the hour mark, when he headed home from a cross to give the visitors what would turn out to be a big three points, and which started Jeju's run up the table before the World Cup break stemmed their progress.

Going back to last season, Jeju have won three in a row in this head-to-head, but Pohang still has a slight overall edge between the two sides, having won thirteen times to Jeju's eleven, while five matches have ended all square at the final whistle.

Team News

While Jeju have struggled in the league quite badly of late, they did exact revenge on FC Seoul in the FA Cup in midweek, as they advanced to the quarterfinals of the competition courtesy of an injury time strike from Tiago.  Their overall performance, however, still left a lot to be desired, and patience is starting to wear thin as production up front continues to be a problem.  The tandem of Magno and Tiago finally seems to be finding some footing, and that could be cause for concern for Pohang's men at the back.

Kim Won-il will not be available for selection for Jeju due to his double yellow card performance against Seoul last weekend, so there is a very good possibility that Cho Yong-hyeong will step in to fill the void.  Kweon Han-jin has been shaky at the back lately for the islanders, so his selection to the first team for Saturday evening may also be up in the air.

For Pohang, according to Ross Davis, the Steelers will also be short some of their regulars, but do have one man returning to the fold.  Ahead of this weekend’s game, Pohang will be without leading scorer Leo Gamalho, who is still sidelined.  Also on the mend is summer signing and fellow Brazilian right-back come striker Teixeira.  Returning to the side is another man from Pohang’s favorite South American country, defender Alemao, who served a suspension last week.

The Adversary

Horribly inconsistent Pohang find themselves back in the top six, albeit only in sixth position.  Their inconsistent nature has created a perfectly symmetrical home record of four wins, three draws, and four losses and an away record of four wins, two draws, and four losses, so a draw seems a likely result, and is certainly one that the Steelers would be happy with given how tight the league is from fourth to ninth.  Add to that the fact that the team has only put two back-to-back wins together all season and it seems unlikely that Pohang will be coming away from the island with all three points.

In terms of the starting lineup, Choi Soon-Ho generally rotates the front three, but with no midweek game, on account of being knocked out of the FA Cup, it will be interesting to see if the coach sticks with the front three that were part of Pohang’s victory last weekend in Incheon, despite none of them getting on the scoreline.  

That would mean a second start for Kim Ji-min who was recently signed from the National League, and who looked the part for the 60 minutes he played, although he did miss a gilt-edged header from six yards out.  He was not alone in that category though, as the East Coast side, as often is the case, created numerous opportunities but were quite wasteful in front of goal.  All season, the side has really struggled for goals this term and are currently the league’s fourth lowest scoring team.  Their defence isn’t exactly watertight, either, and they do ship on average a goal a game.

(by: Ross Davis)


Both teams have been prone to stretches of inconsistency this season, and both have been suffering in the goals department lately.  Jeju's earlier win in the campaign does not mean much at the moment, and it will most likely be a tight match with little to choose between the two clubs.

Jeju will likely field a strong lineup, and may have a slight advantage with Gamalho out for Pohang, but if they are to come away with the result they so desperately need from the match, they have to be more clinical up front.  Advancing to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup could provide a dose of confidence, but the league itself is a much different competition, 

Prediction (from both writers): Jeju United 1-1 Pohang Steelers 

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