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Preview: Pohang Steelers vs Daegu FC

It's all to play for with three games to go before the league split when 4th placed Pohang Steelers take on 7th placed Daegu FC. Both sides will be keen to capture three points as victory for Pohang would secure a top half place for the first time in three seasons. Meanwhile, Daegu has risen dramatically up the table since the World Cup break and a top-half finish would cap off a remarkable turnaround. Ross Davis spoke with Daegu columnist Muyeol Jung to discuss this Sunday's game.


Last Time Out

Sangju Sangmu 1-2 Pohang Steelers

Pohang took a vital step towards ensuring that they will finish in the top half of table when they beat the army side for the first time this season this past Wednesday. The result was pretty comfortable as the east coasters took the lead as early as the 6th minute; taking advantage of a sloppy pass Kim Seung-dae centred the ball for as fate would have it Kim Do-hyung to rifle home. This was Kim's first start for Pohang having just joined following the completion of his military service with Sangju; he was clearly delighted with the strike but sportingly chose not to celebrate.

The rest of first half was fairly even with both sides creating chances; Pohang captain Kim Gwang-seok testing the keeper with a free header and Song si-woo going close at the other end. But right on half-time Pohang again broke down the right with Kim Seung-dae picking out Lee Seok-hyeon who calmly passed it on to Gamalho for the Brazilian to smash home an excellent counter and make it 2-0.  It was the Brazilian's first since May, sixth of the season in total and clearly a huge relief for the Pohang number ten.

The second half was fairly straight forward for Pohang and Kim Do-hyung continued to threaten the Sangju goal, once making the goalkeeper work and then smashing an excellent shot off the bar. Things got a little uncomfortable when Lee Tae-hwi nodded the ball home from a corner kick in the 91st minute. Pohang keeper Lee Hyeon-mu, who had another excellent game earning a spot in the team of round, would have been disappointed with his positioning and the fact that he was not able to keep his tenth clean sheet of the season. But nonetheless, Pohang were able to hold out for the victory that sees them climb into the ACL places in fourth.

Highlights here

Daegu FC 2-2 Gyeongnam FC

An entertaining encounter in Daegu saw both sides leave with a share of the spoils. The game will be most remember for Marcao excellent and spectacular self-setup scissor kick for his 25th of the season; definitely worth a watch on the highlights.

Gyeongnam had the better of the first half and deservedly took the lead in added time when a penalty was justly awarded by VAR after winger Kim Jun-beom had been roundhouse kicked in the chest. Marcao duly and expertly dispatched an unstoppable penalty pass national goalkeeping hero Cho Hyun-woo.

Midway through the second half Daegu equalised through a close range effort from Edgar after excellent work from Jeong Woo-jae. It was what Daegu deserved after piling on the pressure but they weren't level for long as the aforementioned Marcao wonder goal came a mere four minutes later, and Daegu had it all to do again. The home side threw bodies forward and were unlucky not to equalise when Han Hee-hoon, playing in his 100th professional game, hit the bar. The Sky Blues weren't to be denied as they did find the equaliser when in-form Cesinha converted the second penalty of the game. Although they might consider the manner of the award of the penalty a little lucky as it was given for handball despite the fact that it was most definitely ball to hand, and even though VAR was used the incorrect decision was upheld and the game ended 2-2, which saw Daegu move up to seventh in the table.

Highlights here

Previous Meetings

These two sides have 38 times over the years and Pohang have come out on top in the majority of them, winning 20 times to Daegu's 8. Over recent times the results have been more evenly balanced with Daegu winning three of the last five meetings, but all of those victories came last season with the two games this year being victories for the Steelers.

The opening day of the season saw Pohang come out on top in a one-sided encounter three-nil though the last game was a lot closer with Pohang edging it by goal it was still the second game in a row where Daegu failed to score against the east coast side. A record that a side who have scored 15 in their five games is likely to go when the two meet for the third time this season.

Team News

Pohang have no suspensions and virtually a clean bill of health for the whole side. With no midweek FA Cup fixture to worry about the side will probably remain the same from the one that put in a solid performance against Sangju last time out. With Gamalho returning to the starting 11 and most importantly the scoresheet this should see him continue up front alongside the continually impressive in-form Kim Seung-dae and the league MVP of the last round Kim Do-hyung.

Ahead of their FA Cup away game against Mokpo City on Wednesday, Daegu’s starting line-up against Pohang is likely to be pretty similar to the previous game considering Andre’s recent selections. Up front, Edgar will form a spearhead with youngsters Kim Dae-won and Jung Seung-won. They will be largely supported by Brazilian teammate Cesinha, who has been on fire since the World Cup with six goals and nine assists.

The Adversary

Daegu have been in fantastic form with five straight games unbeaten in K League 1. Now Daegu are looking to push themselves into the top six with a place in FA Cup quarterfinals already secured. An extended FA Cup run was not originally the plan for the Sky Blues, but at this stage in the tournament, it would be a wasted opportunity to give up with so many big clubs already eliminated. In a post-match interview after beating Yangpyeong FC 8-0 in the previous round of the tournament, manger Andre expressed his willingness to fight on multiple fronts with 100% commitment.

Muyeol Jung

Who To Watch


The energetic wing back Jeong Woo-jae has been omnipresent in Daegu's preferred 3-4-3 formation for the past three seasons since his move from the now defunct Chungju Hummel. He has missed just one game this season and the attacking threat he provides is a key component to the ever-improving Daegu attack. He has hit the back of the net once this season getting the opener in the 2-1 win in Jeju back in July, but has also contributed three assists including for Edgar in Wednesday's 2-2 draw against Gyeongnam.

While still a bit suspect at the back his enthusiasm and energy goes a long way to making up for his defensive shortcomings. A versatile player that has played on both flanks is clearly not Daegu's biggest attacking threat with the likes Cesinha performing outstandingly of late but his diligence and speed are good weapons that can push back a winger or cause trouble for the opposing fullback.

That said Pohang's left-back Kang Sang-woo, who got the winner in the last match between the two sides, is sure to have has hands full in containing the 26-year-old and will be an interesting mini-battle to keep an eye on throughout the game.

Prediction

With Daegu being the league's in-form side and Pohang hitting the heavy heights of fourth above the ACL semi-finalist Suwon, both sides come into this fixture with a lot of confidence which should result in an entertaining and close game. Both sides should get on the scoreboard so a score draw seems the most likely outcome


Pohang Steelers 1-1 Daegu FC



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