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Preview: Busan IPark vs Asan Mugunghwa

Busan IPark look to get their promotion charge back on track this weekend after failing to win any of their last four games in the K League 2. Their visitors to the Gudeok Stadium on Saturday are league leaders Asan Mugunghwa. The military team boasts plenty of talent, but will off-the-field issues affect the end of their season?

Last Time Out

Busan IPark 1-1 Bucheon 1995

Busan's match against Bucheon 1995 last Sunday got off to the worst possible start. Defender Kwon Jin-young was caught in possession trying to shepherd the ball out of play inside his own penalty box in the ninth minute, and Bucheon's Kim Jun-yub profited from the ensuing move, side-footing calmly into the bottom corner to give the away side the lead. The goal summed up a poor first-half performance from Busan, who had little to show apart from a Lee Dong-joon effort that he poked wide after being played through by Kim Jin-gyu. Kim Dong-hyun should have doubled Bucheon's lead before the break when a simple ball was played right through the heart of Busan's defence, but he shot straight at Kim Hyung-geun, and the first half finished 1-0.

Busan made two changes at half time, bringing on forwards Ko Kyung-min and Han Ji-ho, and the team were much improved in the second half. Ko went close twice as Busan pushed Bucheon back, and they finally found an equaliser in the 70th minute through national team full-back Kim Moon-hwan, making his first start with the club since the Asian Games. After starting the move off by winning back possession deep into Bucheon's half, Kim produced a lovely finish from 25 yards after Bucheon failed to deal with Romulo's lofted ball into the box. Choi Cheol-won then made an excellent save to deny Romulo's effort from a free-kick, and Bucheon held on for a point.

You can watch the highlights of that game here.

Asan Mugunhwa 1-0 Gwangju FC
by Asan columnist Branko Belan.

Asan Mugunghwa, meanwhile, put an end to their mini two match winless slide with their first win over Gwangju last weekend, vaulting them back to the top of K League 2, thanks to Seongnam FC's 1-1 draw with Anyang. Asan came out with a strong lineup, which included Hwang In-beom, who has had to wait a bit longer for his discharge papers from the military to go through. While Asan enjoyed a large share of the possession in the first half, they had to rely on goalkeeper Park Ju-won to keep the match scoreless, as he prevented Gwangju from going into the lead on two separate occasions.

Asan would press harder for the lead in the second half, and their endeavor would pay off when Park Se-jik put them in front on the hour mark thanks to great interplay with Hwang and Ko Mu-yeol, who worked a double pass move into the Gwangju defence, leaving Park to slide into the path of the ball to convert from close range for the lead. Gwangju began to pile on the pressure in the time remaining, and would have evened proceedings with just a few minutes left on the clock, but they had a goal called back after a VAR decision, and Asan were able to hold on for three points.

Highlights here.

Previous Meetings

These teams last met at the start of August, playing out a 0-0 draw at the Yi Soon-sin Stadium. Asan had left-back Lee Joo-yong sent off towards the end of the first half for two bookable offences, but Busan failed to break down Asan's defence in the second period and the spoils were shared. The result stretched Busan's unbeaten run against Asan to eleven games.

Results in 2018:
Busan IPark 1-0 Asan Mugunghwa
Asan Mugunghwa 1-1 Busan IPark
Asan Mugunghwa 0-0 Busan IPark

Team News

Busan IPark made seven changes for their draw with Bucheon last weekend and Choi Yoon-gyeom may decide to recall some of those who were rotated, with Lee Jong-min, Ko Kyung-min, Han Ji-ho, and Koo Sang-min likely to come back into the side. They will still be without vice-captain Lee Jae-kwon, who serves the second game of his ban for a straight red card, so Kim Jin-gyu could partner Romulo in the centre of the park.

Busan will also have to do without first-choice centre-back Kim Myeong-joon after he was ruled out for several weeks with an injury. With Yeon Jei-min, Park Tae-hong and Hong Jin-gi also unavailable, Choi may be forced to continue with Kwon Jin-young alongside Jeong Ho-jeong, despite Kwon's costly error against Bucheon.

The Adversary 


Despite having re-taken the summit in K2, recent news that Asan Mugunghwa would cease operations has led the K League to file a complaint against the team for abruptly putting a stoppage to their recruitment process, according to a report from Yonhap. The club did not make an effort to inform the league of the decision, but if it does go through, then it would cause a shakeup in the playoff picture this season, much as was the case two years ago.

Asan stand to lose twelve players at the end of next February, and that would put them under the compulsory minimum of twenty roster players, meaning they would not be able to compete in the league next season. There is also no mention of what would happen to the remaining players as well.

It would be a shame if what has been a very successful season for the club was to go down the drain because officials no longer wish to oversee the operations of the team, but how the situation plays out remains to be seen.

by Asan columnist Branko Belan.

Who To Watch 


Lee Myung-joo has started all but five of Asan's games this season, and the former Pohang Steelers and FC Seoul midfielder has thrived alongside Joo Se-jong and Hwang In-beom in Asan's engine room. Lee was more of an attack-minded midfielder in his Pohang days, but with his move to Al Ain in the Emirates league he developed into a more rounded playmaker. He has a respectable tally of three goals and four assists going into the last few weeks of the season and, at 28, he will still be hoping to add to the 18 international caps he has amassed so far.

Prediction

Asan have had a poor record against Busan over the past three years but the seasiders have been out of sorts for a few games now. A win here would give Busan a bit of momentum going into the business end of the season, but Asan won't be easy to beat.

Busan IPark 1-1 Asan Mugunhwa

Special Events

Busan IPark enjoyed their best attendance of the season last weekend (4,472), due in part to a number of special events before and after the game. This weekend's game will see even more opportunities for fans and families to enjoy the matchday experience.

One of the highlights will be a traditional games zone for all visitors, with games such as tooho, utnoli, and jegichagi (Korean 'keepy-uppy'). The Gudeok Stadium will also be hosting the Air Busan Danstar semi-final, taking place on the pitch before kick-off, and at half-time spectators can enjoy the final of a singing competition (with the qualifying rounds taking place before 18:00).

Inside the stadium Korean U20 internationals Park Kyung-min and Lee Sang-jun will be signing autographs shortly before kick-off, and national team star Kim Moon-hwan will be giving out free hugs next to the ticket box between 17:30 and 18:30.

If all of that wasn't enough, there will also be free rice cakes for all paying attendees, and an opportunity to buy a mini-season ticket (20,000W for entry to Busan's final four home games this season).



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