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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Gyeongnam FC

Jeonnam Dragons welcome Gyeongnam FC to their second home at Palma Stadium in Suncheon this Sunday in round 28 of K League 1. Can the Dragons win three games in a row for the first time this season or will Gyeongnam spoil the party once again? Jeonnam correspondent Aodan Halligan and his Gyeongnam counterpart James Edrupt look ahead to Sunday's big game in Suncheon.

Game: Jeonnam Dragons v Gyeongnam FC
Venue: Palma Stadium, Suncheon
Kickoff: Sunday 2pm

Last Time Out

Jeonnam Dragons defeated relegation rivals Sangju Sangmu 2-1 in Sangju last time out to give new head coach Kim In-wan his third victory in four games. Brazilian striker Macedo headed the Dragons into the lead in the 36th minute from around eight yards out after a superb right-wing cross from Han Chan-hee. And the Dragons doubled their advantage in the 79th minute after a jinking left-wing run from substitute Heo Yong-joon.  The in-form striker picked the ball up around 40 yards out from goal and then twisted his markers inside out in the penalty box before sending a dangerous low cross to the edge of the six yard box that Kim Min-Woo put into his own net. Sim Dong-won's tap-in from two yards out, after Shin Chang-mu's cutback from the byline in the 88th minute, ensured a nervy finish, but the Dragons held on for a huge three points.

Full Time: Sangju Sangmu 1 Jeonnam Dragons 2

Highlights: here

Meanwhile, Gyeongnam FC slumped to their second successive defeat at home to champions and league leaders Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors to all but kill off their title hopes this season. Jeonbuk raced into the lead in the fifth minute after Son Joon-ho's right-wing corner found Adriano at the edge of the six-yard box. The Brazilian headed the ball into the top left-hand corner of the net and as most K League fans know by now, the champions are very difficult to defeat once they get on the front foot. Indeed, the game was as good as over around 20 minutes later when Jeonbuk scored from another right-wing corner - Ricardo Lopez volleying Son Joon-ho's delivery into the bottom left-corner, this time around 12 yards out from goal. Jeonbuk's Brazilian number 10 wasn't finished there, though: in the 84th minute he was quickest to react to Lee Yong's right-wing cross and stabbed the ball into the net from just two yards out.

Full Time: Gyeongnam FC 0 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors 3

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Gyeongnam FC enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 home victory over Jeonnam Dragons in the most recent match between these two sides in Changwon on August 12th. The home side, who started with some key players on the bench, took the lead in first-half injury time - somewhat against the run of play - courtesy of Paulino's half volley from 12 yards out. Gyeongnam's cavalry were brought on in the second half, however, and one of their most reliable lieutenants, Marcao, out-jumped Dragons' keeper Park Dae-han at the edge of the six-yard box in the 63rd minute to head in their second. And in the 82nd minute Joe Jae-chol cut in from the right wing and curled the ball into the top-left corner of the net with his left foot to complete the scoring.

Nevertheless, even though Jeonnam lost both matches between the sides this season, they still boast the better head-to-head record. In fact, the Dragons have emerged victorious in 13 of the 27 games between the teams, while Gyeongnam have only tasted victory nine times. The honors were even in the other five games.

Dragons' Team News

Ha Tae-goon has started running again, but is a long way from full fitness. The 30-year-old striker, who last appeared for the Dragons in the 1-1 drawn game with Daegu on May 19th, will be absent again this weekend and probably for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, left back Lee Seul-chan will also miss out this weekend due to suspension after picking up his third yellow card of the season against Sangju Sangmu on September 1st. Otherwise, the Dragons have a clean bill of health and thus head coach Kim In-wan should be able to put out a strong side.

The Adversary

Gyeongnam FC go into Sunday's clash in the knowledge that a win will guarantee them a top half finish, and keep an ACL berth well within their grasp.  They haven’t been in the best of form however without their main talisman Marcao.  They have lost two games on the bounce to Suwon Bluewings 1-0 at the Big Bird and 3-0 defeat vs run away leaders Jeonbuk Motors.  The performances were not that bad, but The Reds really lacked a cutting edge in the final third and the three goals against Jeonbuk were all sloppy.  Gyeongnam will be without the mainstay in defense, Park Ji-soo, after he picked up his third caution last time out and must serve a one match suspension.  Meaning manager Kim Jung-boo will have to shuffle the pack defensively for this one. The rest of the team are all with a full bill of health. Especially good news for winger Bae Ki-jeong, who missed the last few months, but played in a reserve fixture recently and will be pushing for a place in the squad.  He may prove to be vital in the run up to the end of the season. With or without Bae, the Reds will look to bounce back after their recent set-backs and pull away from the chasing pack.

- James Edrupt

Who To Watch

Gyeongnam's massive 24-year-old Brazilian striker Marcao will be back in action this weekend after serving a two-match suspension following his red card against Gangwon on August 22nd. And K League 1's second top-scorer, who's scored 21 league goals in 2018, has proved to be a major headache for Dragons defenders - having netted in both games between the sides this season. The six-foot-four-inch striker, a human wrecking ball machine at times, is capable of embarrassing defenders and goalkeepers in the air. But, he's also equally adept on the ground and possesses one of the most powerful right foots in the K League. And to make matters worse for the home side's supporters, the striker will no doubt be chomping at the bit to destroy the Dragons and rise to the top of the goal-scoring charts after missing the last two games.


The Dragons, currently in their best form of the season, are starting to build momentum and win back supporters so Gyeongnam will probably have to work a lot harder against them than in the two previous games. Kim In-wan's team are not a whole lot different from predecessor Yoo Sang-chul's in terms of personnel. However, after witnessing Yoo's 3-4-3 formation failings first hand, he decided to change tactics and his 4-3-3 formation has proved a lot more successful. What's more, Jeonnam are far more dangerous up front and have scored 11 goals in Kim's four games (2.75 per game). Kim's Dragons have also got a lot more fight in them and they've come from behind in two of their three victories so Jeonnam's new head coach deserves a lot of credit. Plus, with Gyeongnam in the midst of a mini slump, Kim will be confident that his team can add another big name to their list of scalps. And I think so, too, even though Gyeongnam have bossed proceedings thus far.

Jeonnam Dragons 3 - Gyeongnam FC 2


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