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FA Cup Quarter Final Preview: Ulsan Hyundai vs. Gimhae FC

Korean FA Cup Quarter Final 2018 Preview: Ulsan Hyundai vs Gimhae

Holders Ulsan Hyundai play host to National League high-flyers Gimhae FC in the FA Cup quarter-finals this Wednesday afternoon.  Ulsan will no doubt fancy their chances of more cup glory this season, but Gimhae, who beat K League 1's Gangwon FC earlier this year, will be trying everything they can to put their name in the draw for what would be their first ever FA Cup semi-final.  Ulsan columnist Daniel Croydon previews this one for us.
(image via K League)

Last Time Out

Suwon Samsung Bluewings 2-2 Ulsan Hyundai
Ulsan yet again threw points away in the dying moments of the game when they allowed Suwon midfielder Elvis Saric a free header in the six-yard box. This dreadful lapse in concentration undid what had been a fine performance by the Horangi up to that point. Young attacker Han Seung-kyu had earlier added two fantastic goals to his growing collection either side of half-time; the first a 25-yard effort that dipped over a bamboozled Shin Hwa-yong; the second a wonderfully poked finish after he had bought himself half a yard in the box.  Saric volleyed in a peach of his own in the 80th minute to get Suwon back into the tie, before his header broke Ulsan hearts in the second minute of injury time.  Add this to the late equalisers they conceded at Incheon, Gangwon, and Gyeongnam and it becomes crystal clear: by fair means or foul, Ulsan simply must find a way to kill off games away from home.

Highlights video here

Daejeon Korail 2-2 Gimhae FC
Gimhae also played out a score draw in their last game when they met midtable Daejeon Korail in Korean football's third tier. The visitors conceded early in the second half but went on to take the lead with a quickfire double in the 81st and 83rd minute. The first came through ex-Suwon FC striker Yoon Tae-su, who became the club's joint top scorer on six goals for the season; the second was thanks to substitute Ahn Sang-min.  But an injury time goal from Daejeon striker Ji Kyung-deuk meant that Gimhae had to be satisfied with a point. That result leaves them still six points behind National League leaders Gyeongju KHNP with just four games to play.

Team News

Ulsan manager Kim Do-hoon has a reputation for taking cup competitions relatively seriously and often picks close to a full-strength team in knockout situations regardless of the opposition. Having said that, Ulsan face a tough test at the weekend when Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors come to town, especially seeing as the visitors could finally clinch the title that has seemed to be theirs for so long now, if results go their way. So Kim will most likely take the chance to bench some key players for this one, such as topscorer Junior and midfielders Han Seung-kyu and Park Jong-woo, only calling on them if needs must.  Expect a start for Kim Seung-jun, who scored in the last round at Busan, along with the likes of Sergio Escudero and Hwang Il-soo. There may even be room for a youngster like striker Oh Se-hun or Asian Games gold-medalist Kim Geon-woong to add to the handful of appearances they've made so far this season.

The Adversary

While his club has never made it this far in the competition before, Gimhae manager Yoon Sung-hyo is no stranger to FA Cup glory. The 56-year-old former defender was in charge when Suwon Samsung Bluewings lifted the cup back in 2010 with a 1-0 win over Busan IPark - club legend Yeom Ki-hun scoring the only goal that afternoon.  It was undoubtedly the highlight of Yoon's time at the Big Bird, as he returned to the club he made 82 appearances for as a player back in the late 90's. However, he could not maintain that level of success and, after several years of mid table finishes, Yoon left the club in 2012 before becoming manager of Busan a year later.  Now in charge of his hometown club of Gimhae FC, Yoon has put together a very young, hardworking team that seems to be edging closer and closer to something special.  They were runners-up in last year's National League and find themselves in a similar position this campaign with just a few games left.  But with the exceptional cup run, which included them knocking out their league rivals Gyeongju KHNP, and K League 1 Gangwon FC, 2018 may well end up being one of Gimhae's most memorable seasons.

Who To Watch

The strength and depth of Ulsan's talent was evident throughout their fantastic run of results over the summer period.  The post World Cup form of Junior, Han Seung-kyu and Mix Diskerud has propelled the Horangi up the table, while they have comfortably made it to another FA Cup quarter-final without too many scares along the way.  As mentioned above, Kim Do-hoon may elect to rest some players ahead of the weekend's game with Jeonbuk, but whoever gets the nod in Ulsan's pacy three-pronged attack is likely to cause Gimhae all kinds of problems.
Gimhae's Brazilian youngster Vitor in training earlier this year (Image from footballjournal.co.kr)

For the visitors attacking midfielder Ahn Sang-min pulls the strings in this incredibly youthful team. The 23-year-old Gangwon loanee currently leads Korea's third tier in assists. Upfront, Brazilian striker Vitor started the season well with six goals in twelve games, but has since gone off the boil with no goals since May.  Elsewhere, midfielder Ji Eon-hak is capable of chipping in with a goal or two, while Go Yoon-cheol has proven to be a steady presence at the back in his debut season.


With the usual disclaimers about cup magic and anything being possible on the day, I can't look beyond a home win.  The FA Cup saved Kim Do-hoon's job last year and he has shown respect to the competition again so far this campaign.  The Horangi have won seven on the trot at Munsu and will no doubt be hungry for a positive result after last Saturday's disappointment in Suwon.  Gimhae will need plenty of defensive heroics and a whole load of luck if they are to somehow survive to fight another day.

Prediction: Ulsan Hyundai 3-0 Gimhae FC

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