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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Pohang Steelers

Jeonnam Dragons take on Pohang Steelers in Gwangyang Football Stadium this Sunday evening in round 26 of K League 1. The Dragons, K League 1's bottom side, badly need all three points, but will they be able to record a victory over a side that are 17 points above them in the table? As for the Steelers, can they continue their impressive form and work their way into the fourth and final Champions League spot? Jeonnam Dragons' columnist Aodan Halligan and Pohang Steelers' columnist Ross Davis preview the fourth Posco derby of 2018.

Game: Jeonnam Dragons v Pohang Steelers
Venue: Gwangyang Football Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday 7 pm

Last Time Out

Jeonnam Dragons lost a crucial relegation six-pointer at Incheon on Wednesday and are now propping up the table in K League 1. And the Dragons got off to the worst possible start in Sungui Arena Park, going behind just five minutes into the game.

Moon Seon-min, who proved to be a thorn in the Dragons' side all evening, was first to react to a rebound from just outside the right hand side of the six-yard box after Gordon Bunoza's fierce left foot volley was brilliantly saved by Dragons' keeper Lee Ho-seung. Although Lee managed to get back to his feet and even got his hands on Moon's effort, the left winger's strike was full of venom and flew into the top left corner of the net.

Moon Seon-min turned provider 34 minutes later, slipping Stefan Mugosa through, after orchestrating a counter attack from his own half. Mugosa, who still had a lot to do, picked the ball up on the left hand side of the penalty box, before turning back inside and curling the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net - to put his side two goals up at the end of the first half.

Jeonnam rallied in the second half and Wanderson had the home side's defence in sixes and sevens after a great left wing run, but it was the visitors other Brazilian who reduced the deficit. Macedo, who had bagged two goals in Jeonnam's previous match against Suwon Bluewings,  headed the ball into the roof of the net in the 64th minute from the edge of the six-yard box after Heo Yong-joon's left wing cross. However, the home side struck back after an assist from the unlikeliest of sources. 

Incheon United goalkeeper Jung San joined Manchester City keeper Ederson in registering a rare assist this week after his huge kick out found Moon Seon-min just outside the Dragons' penalty box in the 79th minute. Moon followed the ball into the box, but Dragons' keeper Lee ho Seung will not want to see replay of what happened next - as not only did he allow the five-foot, seven inch winger to out-jump him, he also failed to realize that he was inside his own penalty box (and could have caught the ball with his hands). Lee's costly error ended the game as a contest and also dented the Dragons' survival chances.

Full Time Score: Incheon United 3 Jeonnam Dragons 1

Highlights: here

Meanwhile, Pohang Steelers picked up their third victory in five games in Seoul on Wednesday. The visitors started brightly in the capital city and Kim Seung-dae almost created the opening goal for them after playing a quick one-two with Lee Seok-hyun on the left wing. The winger then played a low left-foot cross into the six yard box but Sim Sang-min's last-ditch tackle prevented Lee Gwang-hyuk from putting Pohang in front. Nevertheless, the visitors came again and just a few minutes later broke the deadlock after more great play on the left wing in the 15th minute. Wing-back Woo Chan-yang ran to the byline after a nice team move by the Steelers and then whipped in a low cross towards the six-yard box, which deflected off FC Seoul defender Park Dong-jin, completely wrong-footing FC Seoul goalkeeper Yang Han-bin, and the keeper ended up palming the ball into his own net.

That own goal proved to be the only strike in the game and the Steelers drew level on points with Suwon Bluewings (albeit after having played an extra game) who occupy that coveted fourth and final Champions League spot.

Full Time: FC Seoul 0 Pohang Steelers 1

Highlights: here 

Previous Meetings

Jeonnam Dragons and Pohang Steelers have already met three times this season, twice in the league and once in the FA cup. In fact, the two teams had to play each other twice in the space of four days towards the end of last month.

On July 21st Pohang got the better of Jeonnam at the Steelyard in round 19 of K League 1.  Han Chan-hee gave the Dragons a tenth minute lead, but Almao equalized for the Steelers a few minutes before half time. Lee Keun-ho put the home side in front in the 56 minute and Lee Jin-hyun made sure of the points in the 88th minute - to give the Steelers their second league victory over the Dragons this season. However, it was a a different story at the Steelyard a mere four days later in the fourth round of the FA cup as Brazilian attacker Macedo stepped up for cup specialists Jeonnam to knock the hosts out.

Pohang boast the better head-to-head record, though, having won 19 of the 45 games between the two sides. The Dragons have beaten the Steelers thirteen times and the other thirteen matches ended in stalemates.

Team News

New Dragons' head coach Kim In-wan will have to shuffle his pack at the back due to a suspension. Australian center back James Donachie will not be in the squad after picking up his third yellow card of the season in the 3-1 defeat to Incheon United on Wednesday. Thus, it'll be interesting to see if Kim decides to put wing-back Lee Seul Chan back in the center of defence again. The wing-back was part of a rearguard that conceded four against Suwon in Kim's opening game as head coach last Sunday and even though the Dragons won the game 6-4, they were sliced open far too many times. Elsewhere, Heo Yong-joon will surely start for the first time since he injured his ankle in the 3-1 defeat to Pohang on July 21st. The attacker impressed once again on Wednesday and was involved  in a third goal for the Dragons in two games, coming off the bench in the second half to provide an assist for Macedo.

For Pohang, wide-forward and joint top scorer with five goals Kim Seung-dae was Wednesday’s standout player and has been performing well of late, Kim alongside the impressive and joint top assister Lee Keun-ho have become the regular starting pair up front with coach Choi Soon-ho generally opting to rotate the third forward in the standard 4-3-3 formation, which away from home has looked more solid and compact. Pohang have three clean sheets in the last five away games and have won the aforementioned three games by a solitary goal each time.

That might well be tested on Sunday especially given the problems at right back. Kang Sang-woo returned to the side on Wednesday after suspension but was forced off midway through the second half with injury and was in clear discomfort so he is unlikely to be fit for the weekend fixture at the Dragons. His would be replacement Lee Sang-ki replaced him on the night but won’t be doing so this weekend as he picked up a 90th minute booking and will be suspended after collecting a total of six bookings this campaign. This might result in Teixeira being rushed back from his own injury to fill the right back position.

(Pohang Steelers' Team news supplied by Ross Davis)


The Adversary

The Steelers bounced back from the humiliating three-nil home defeat to Gyeongnam FC midweek with a hard fought, if not unspectacular, victory over FC Seoul in the capital. The result leaves the east coast side in a promising position level on points with Suwon Bluewings, although having played a game more, and with a four-point cushion from the bottom half of the table.

Pohang, while remaining inconsistent at times, are the third best in league form over the past six games and find themselves in good form away from home having won three of the last five, drawing one and losing one. Pohang now have a better away record than home one meaning the 2013 champions can take a lot of confidence ahead of this weekend’s fixture.

By Ross Davis

Who To Watch

Even though, Heo Yong-joon's has only only made three substitute appearances in the last three games, he's been central to Jeonnam's offensive play and could help decide  this Sunday's Posco derby. The six-foot 25-year-old attacker's strong in the air, comfortable with both feet and helps free up space for teammates like Macedo. What's more, he often causes defenders serious problems when he cuts in from the left wing and is a clinical finisher. And Heo's cameo role against Suwon Bluewings suggests that there's a touch of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer about him as doesn't need much time to adapt as soon as he gets on the field. So even if he starts on the bench on Sunday, he could have a major influence over proceedings.

Prediction

Aodan Halligan: The Steelers have been really impressive lately and ripped the Dragons open at will the last time they came to Gwangyang in round two of K League 1 in March. Therefore, though I can see the Dragons scoring, I can't see them winning at home for the second game in a row. They may be good enough for a draw, however.

Jeonnam Dragons 2 Pohang Steelers 2

Ross Davis: With form it seems it’s Pohang’s to lose but they are an impossible side to predict at the best of times. Their general away performances of late though do give encouragement and should be enough to see them through in what will likely be a tight encounter.

Jeonnam Dragons 1-2 Pohang Steelers





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