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Preview: Busan IPark vs Daejeon Citizen

Preview: Busan IPark vs Daejeon Citizen K League 2
With ten games of the K League 2 season remaining, teams are jostling for places in the playoff race. Among them are Busan IPark, the league's top scorers, and their visitors on Saturday, Daejeon Citizen. The Purples recovered from a dismal July to win four of their last five games, and another win at the Gudeok Stadium would bring them to within two points of the south coast team in third.
(image via K League)

Last Time Out

Last Saturday Busan played out a thrilling 3-3 draw away to Gwangju FC. In an action-packed game, Gwangju should have taken the lead after nine minutes when Kim Dong-hyun somehow managed to hit the crossbar from three yards out following a corner, not only once, but also on the rebound. They did take the lead after 26 minutes, however, when Choi Joon-hyuk lashed home following another corner. Ten minutes later Kim Dong-hyun made up for his earlier miss by curling in a low effort from twenty yards to give Gwangju a 2-0 lead going into the break.

Busan improved after half-time with Romulo and Kim Jin-gyu going close with efforts from outside the box, and a Romulo penalty on 67 minutes halved the deficit after half-time substitute Lee Dong-joon was brought down on his way to goal. Nine minutes later the young winger then scored the equalising goal himself, meeting Lee Jong-min's cross with a diving header to make it 2-2.

With just over five minutes left of normal time, Lee Dong-joon collected Ko Kyung-min's pass and poked in his second goal of the game to give Busan the lead for the first time, but Gwangju were to have the final say. A close-range Felipe header from Park Yo-han's cross made it 3-3 in stoppage time, and although both teams had chances to win it, that was how it finished.

You can watch highlights from that game here.

Last Monday night Daejeon eased past Suwon FC thanks to a 1-0 victory at Purple Arena. A Ko Myeongseok header in the first half proved to be enough to give Ko Jongsoo's side the lion's share of the spoils. Former Bucheon centre back Ko Myeongseok was left unmarked from a Shanzhar Tursanov corner and sent his glancing header into the top corner at an extremely wet and rain sodden Daejeon World Cup Stadium.
by Paul Neat

You can watch highlights from that game here.

Previous Meetings

This will be Busan and Daejeon's third meeting of the season. The first game ended in a narrow 1-0 victory for Busan, with Lee Dong-joon's early goal enough to claim an away win.

The follow-up meeting, in Busan's Asiad World Cup Stadium, was one of the games of the season. It featured defensive mistakes, VAR controversy, penalties scored and missed, a host of missed chances and even a 96th minute goal. The match finished 3-3, and the highlights are worth watching again.

Team News

Busan will still be without winger Kim Moon-hwan who, after winning the gold medal and military exemption in the Asian Games, will be hoping to make his debut for the senior national team in their friendlies with Costa Rica and Chile.

Vice-captain Lee Jae-kwon could return to partner Romulo in the heart of Busan's midfield after missing the draw with Gwangju, while goalkeeper Koo Sang-min is also likely to return, replacing Kim Hyung-geun between the sticks. Winger Lee Dong-joon, who came on at half-time to change the game last weekend, is pushing for his first start in over a month after scoring three goals in his last two appearances off the bench.

Daejeon Citizen will be without Shohruh Gadoev and Sanzhar Tursanov; the pair have both been called up to the Uzbekistan National Team for their forthcoming friendlies against Syria on Friday and Iran next Wednesday. Lee Geoncheol and Park Suchang may be step in in their absence.

Hwang Inbeom's gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games earned the midfielder military exemption meaning that the 21 year-old has returned to Purple Arena having spent the first half of the season on loan at Asan Mugunghwa. However, due the midfielder's inclusion in the full Korean National Team squad, the Daejeon native will be unavailable for the weekend trip to the south coast.
by Paul Neat

The Adversary

After going through the whole of August unbeaten, amassing 11 points from the 15 available, the Purples now found themselves in uncharted territory - bearing down on the playoff places. Monday's win over Suwon FC moved Daejeon onto 36 points, level with fourth placed Gwangju and with it all to play for heading into the final 10 games of the campaign. The Purples have made steady progress under fledgling gaffer Ko Jongsoo and are becoming less of a soft touch from that of previous incarnations of Daejeon Citizen. Four cleansheets from the last five games and just two goals conceded in six matches represents a defensive unit that is resolute. Ko isn't one to wield the axe for the sake of it and has been known to field the same starting lineup from one week to the next, something of a rarity in the K League.

What Ko Jongsoo has also done is entrusted young players to show what they are capable of. The spine of Citizens team, with Ko Myeongseok (22), Kang Yunsung (21), Park Sooil (22), and Park Inhyeok (22) all contributing to what can be, thus far, considered a successful season for Daejeon Citizen. Whilst playoffs will have always been the aim, Citizen can head to places like the Gudeok, Tancheon, Yisunsin Stadium, and the such like, as the underdogs.
by Paul Neat

Who To Watch

Park Joon-hyuk

Daejeon Citizen goalkeeper Park Junhyeok
Park (R) in action for Daejeon against FC Anyang (image via K League)
Daejeon Citizen goalkeeper Park Joon-hyuk only joined the club in July but he's already well known to K League fans. Park had spells as first-choice goalkeeper for Daegu, Jeju United, and Seongnam in the first division before his military service, and his return to action is a timely one for the playoff-chasing Purples. In his eight appearances since joining Daejeon, Park has conceded a miserly four goals. Daejeon's tightened defence has been a major factor in their upturn in form through late summer, and Park's contribution to that run cannot be overlooked. Busan may be the league's highest scorers, but they'll be up against one of the league's best keepers this weekend.

Prediction

If the last meeting between these teams is anything to go by, this will be a great game. Daejeon are the league's form team and have an excellent defensive record of late, but Busan are the league's top scorers.

Busan IPark 2-2 Daejeon Citizen



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