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Preview: Suwon Bluewings vs Gyeongnam FC

Suwon Bluewings and Gyeongnam FC battle it out for the 3rd, and possibly final, time on Saturday evening, when they face each other in round 26 of the 2018 K League 1 season. Although they sit 2nd in the table, Gyeongnam are yet to beat Suwon this season, and they will face a stern test against a Suwon team who are looking to get their challenge for ACL places back on track. 

Last Time Out

Due to heavy weather conditions, Suwon's game away to Jeju United was cancelled late in the afternoon on Wednesday. And although that means they now have some extra rest time, the team also faces a tough journey as they battle to get back home, whilst Typhoon Soulik engulfs the Korean peninsula.

Gyeongnam scrapped past a dogged Gangwon outfit on Wednesday night, winning 2-1, after falling behind in the first half. Gangwon took an early lead when Jin Sung-hwang converted for the visitors. But the game was swung on its head after 34 minutes, when Gangwon's Brazilian striker, Mauricio, received his marching orders for picking up two yellow cards within four minutes.

Two decisive second half goals won the game for the home side and the first came from an unlikely source, as center back Kim Hyun-hun, scored from a free header 7 minutes after half time. The winner came from Kim Hyo-gi with 70 minutes on the clock and it was no more than Gyeongnam deserved.  After bombarding Gangwon's goal, for large periods of the second, their pressure finally paid off. A Marcao header thundered off the post and Kim was the fastest to react to the loose ball to put Gyeongnam one goal ahead.

However, both sides ended the game with 10 men when Gyeongnam's Marcão decided to join his fellow countryman in the changing rooms. A flailing elbow, on Cyprian center back, Valentinos Sielis, was initially only deemed worthy of a yellow card. But the referee was asked to refer to VAR and he duly sent the big man packing.

Full match highlights can be found here. 

Previous Meetings

Suwon are two places and thirteen points behind Gyeongnam in the K League table, but the Bluewings have fared reasonably well against Gyeongnam so far this season.

Their first meeting of the campaign resulted in a 3-1 win for the team in blue. Goals from Jeon Se-jin, Dejan and Kim Jong-woo securing all three points for the Gyeongi team. And Suwon became only one of three teams to prevent Gyeongnam from winning since the return of K League after the World Cup break, when they faced them in mid-July. That night, goals from Lee Jong-sung and Waguininho had handed Suwon the lead. But an equaliser from Marcão ensured that both teams shared the three points.

It is now nine games since Gyeongnam beat Suwon and you have to go all the way back to the 2012 FA Cup to find Gyeongnam’s last victory over Suwon. A 1-1 draw resulted in an entertaining penalty shootout which finished 4-2 and Gyeongnam progressed to the next stage of the cup.

Team News

Seo Jung-won is in the unenviable position of knowing that he must win this game to keep pace in the chase for ACL qualification, whilst also needing to keep one eye on the upcoming midweek fixture, against Jeonbuk. But with Suwon desperately needing a positive result in that ACL quarter final first leg, Seo may well rest some of his preferred starting eleven against Gyeongnam.

Dejan Damjanovic's current form demands that he starts both this game, and the Jeonbuk game, but other regular first team players may get some much needed rest. If Seo chooses to do as such, then that may mean starts for the likes of Jeon Se-jin, Han Eui-kwon and Kim Jong-woo.

Meanwhile, Suwon's Park Jong-woo, Waguininho and Shin Hwa-yong will all sit this game out through injury.

The Adversary

Kim Jung-boo's squad travel to Suwon on the weekend in truly remarkable form. The Reds are unbeaten in eleven games since the world cup break, winning eight and drawing three. However, Gyeongnam will have to travel north without their leading marksman, Marcão, following his red card in the previous game. The absence will force Gyeongnam to shuffle the pack to compensate for his loss, and should fill the Bluewings with great confidence.

The good news for Gyeongnam is that Suwon may have their eyes on their upcoming ACL quarter final against fellow K League team, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors. Regardless of where Suwon's focus is, this game could be a cracker with both sides preferring to play football on the floor. Especially when considering Gyeongnam will want revenge for to 3-1 loss they suffered in their previous trip to Big Bird in what was probably the Reds' worst performance of 2018. They have definitely built in confidence since that game, and this encounter should be a more competitive contest.

By James Edrupt

Who To Watch

Marcao's absence means that most headline writers will now be keeping an eye on Dejan instead. But the player who may decide this game, for all the wrong reasons, is Suwon's goalkeeper No Dong-geun.

Since Shin Hwa-yong's absence, following the World Cup,  means that the young goalkeeper has started every game for the Bluewings, conceding a whopping 23 goals from 12 matches in that time. He has recently been at fault for goals conceded against Seoul, Gyeongnam and Jeju, and his handling in his last game, the thrashing against Jeonnam, was a new low for the beleaguered goalkeeper. One more bad game might be too much to take for the manager and the goalkeeper is most definitely playing for his place in that illustrious ACL quarter final next week.


Suwon have played well against Gyeongnam this season but they are a team completely out of form. Only one win in their last six league games has seen them tumble down the table and they are in a real scrap to even qualify for next year's ACL. Gyeongnam, on the other hand, appear to be going from strength to strength, and even without Marcao will still pose a threat to Suwon. With Seo having one eye on that huge fixture next week the door might be open for Gyeongnam to beat Suwon for the first time in 6 years. It will be a tight game but Gyeongnam should have what it takes to get passed what is likely to be a 2nd string Suwon team.

Suwon Bluewing 1-2 Gyeongnam FC

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