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Preview: Sangju Sangmu v Jeonnam Dragons

Following another thrilling home win in Gwangyang on Sunday, Jeonnam Dragons head northeast to Sangju Stadium this Saturday evening - with fire in their bellies - to take on Sangju Sangmu in round 27 of K League 1. Can the eleventh-placed Dragons help themselves to another three points and close the gap on their opponents in ninth? Or will Sangju ease their own relegation fears by denying the Dragons victory? Aodan Halligan previews this Saturday's game.

Game: Sangju Sangmu v Jeonnam Dragons
Venue: Gwangyang Football Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday 7pm

Last Time Out

If the experts' predictions were to be believed last Sunday, Jeonnam Dragons faced a double threat at Gwangyang Football Stadium: a torrential downpour and a vastly superior visiting team. Yet when the game kicked off, there wasn't a drop of rain in sight and most home supporters were optimistic their team could get something from the game against their Posco rivals, Pohang Steelers.

However, it took the visitors just 28 minutes to take control of proceedings, courtesy of a wonderful diving header from Kim Ji-min. Kim sent the ball into the bottom right corner of the net from the edge of the six-yard box after profiting from Lee Seok-hyun's superb right-wing cross. And Lee Seok-hyun almost put the visitors two up around 10 minutes later, but his low left-foot strike from the edge of the penalty area was well saved by Dragons' keeper Lee Ho-seung. 

The Steelers started the second half well, too, and doubled their advantage in the 58th minute, Kim Seung-dae applying the finish this time after a great run down the right wing. Nevertheless, Dragons' keeper Lee Ho-seung, whose keeping has been under scrutiny as of late, didn't exactly cover himself in glory as he was beaten at his near post and should have done better once again. A shower arrived after that and for a few minutes it looked like the whole day was following the script, but the rain stopped as quickly as it had begun and the Dragons refused to down tools.

And they were rewarded for their efforts in the 71st minute, Han Chan-hee firing through a crowd of bodies after some pinball in the Pohang penalty box. The Dragons continued to press and in the 85th minute Lee Seul Chan's cross found Heo Yong-joon at the edge of the six-yard box and the six-foot plus striker's header sailed into the bottom left corner of the net to level the scores. The Yeosu-born star (pictured above) wasn't finished there, though.  In the 93rd minute, Heo curled a superb effort from the edge of the penalty box into the top left corner of the net to give Jeonnam another precious three points and push them up to 11th in the table.

Final Score: Jeonnam Dragons 3 Pohang Steelers 2

Highlights: here

Meanwhile, Sangju Sangmu hosted K League 1 leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors last Saturday. And the visitors got off to a lightening quick start, Ricardo Lopes's curler from the edge of the six-yard box almost bursting the top right hand corner of the net in the third minute. Lee Dong-gook rifled the ball into the roof of the Sangju net from around 12 yards out to put the visitors further ahead just 15 minutes later and the visitors went in at halftime two goals to the good.

However, the home side refused to raise the white flag and in the 77th minute Kim Do-hyung brought them back into the game. The 27-year-old striker brought down a cross in the penalty box with his midsection before dispatching a half volley into the side netting on the left hand side of the goal. And Kim was involved in the next goal nine minutes later, too - this time threading a beautiful ball over the top to teammate Jo Min-kyu. Jo took the pass down with his chest and then scored from an unorthodox scissors-kick -  slamming the ball into the ground and over Jeonbuk keeper Hwang Byeong-geun - to give Sangu a share of the spoils.

Full Time Score: Sangju Sangmu 2 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 2

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Sangju Sangmu and Jeonnam Dragons have met twice in K League 1 this season, with the latter coming out on top - having claimed four of the six points available.  The Dragons emerged victorious in the most recent meeting between the two sides on July 14th at Gwangyang Football Stadium after two second-half strikes. Heo Yong-joon opened the scoring for them that day in the 60th minute, curling the ball into the bottom right corner of the net with his right foot after cutting inside from the left wing.  Wanderson's powerful free kick from fully 25 yards out just five minutes later ended up in the top left corner of the net to give Jeonnam a 2-0 victory and all three points. There was no winner when the teams  met in May at Sangju Stadium, though. Sim Dong-woon gave Sangju the lead in the 20th minute, but Macedo replied for Jeonnam in the 47th minute and the scores remained the same for the rest of the game.

Jeonnam Dragons boast the better head-to-head record between the teams overall, too. The Dragons  have won 23 of the 41 games played whereas Sangju have only won eight. The other ten games were drawn.

Team News

Dragons' long-term injury absentee Ha Tae-goon, who hasn't featured since May, will most likely be absent again this weekend. But, Australian central defender James Donachie will return after serving his one-match suspension. Meanwhile, several regular first team players such as Macedo, Vedran Jugovic and Lee Sang-yeon will have to be careful as they're one booking away from suspension. And Sangju defenders Yoo Sang-hoon and Shin Se-gye will also have to watch their steps as they're both one yellow card away from one-game bans, too.

The Adversary

Winless in six games, Sangju Sangmu are in danger of being dragged into another relegation battle this year as the teams below them have improved dramatically over the last few weeks. The military side, who only survived by the skin of their teeth last season, can ease relegation fears with a victory over Jeonnam Dragons this Saturday, though. And as league-leaders and reigning champions Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors found out on their travels last weekend, the soldiers are no pushovers on their own turf. However, Sangju have found it difficult to claim all three points at home and have become draw specialists lately.

Head coach Kim Tae-wan favors a defensive 4-1-4-1 formation and thus it's perhaps no surprise that Sangju have one of the best defensive records in the league. The military side have conceded 32 goals from 26 games played this season or 1.2 per game. (In contrast, Jeonnam have shipped 51 goals from the same amount of games - an average of 1.96 per game.) Therefore, if Sangju score a couple of goals, Jeonnam will have their work cut out for them. 

Who To Watch

Kim Do-hyung rescued a point for Sangju last Saturday and needs to be marked tightly by the Jeonnam Dragons this week. The five-foot-eleven-inch attacker holds up the ball well, has an eye for a pass and can finish well.  Kim has four goals and three assists to his name already this season and will no doubt be hoping to add to those totals this Saturday in Sangju.


It'll be interesting to see what formation Dragons' head coach Kim In-wan employs this weekend. Kim, who's enjoyed a stellar start to his Dragons' managerial career, has achieved two great wins at home with a 4-3-3 formation, but his team lost 3-1 to Incheon on his only away fixture after opting to go with a 4-5-1. Thus, perhaps he should opt for 4-3-3 on the road. Regardless,  both teams will be full of confidence following last weekend's results so this one should be tight. In fact, I believe the two sides will cancel each other out in Sangju for the second time this season.

Sangju Sangmu 2 Jeonnam Dragons 2

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