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Preview: Gangwon FC vs Pohang Steelers

K League 1 Preview: Gangwon FC vs Pohang Steelers

Gangwon are still in the top half despite losing last weekend. A win against Pohang would go a long way to helping Gangwon secure a top-half finish and would keep their slip chances of an Asian Champions’ League spot alive. They face a Pohang side that has won three games on the bounce to climb into the top four. Steve Price previews this top-half clash.

Last Time Out

In league matches since the World Cup break, only second-placed Gyeongnam have come away from Jeonju with anything other than some bruises and muddy boots to show for their efforts so it was no surprise that Gangwon eventually succumbed to Jeonbuk, losing 3-2 after a late Kim Shin-wook winner. The home side were given a helping hand (literally) by Gangwon goalkeeper Lee Beom-young who was at fault for Jeonbuk’s first two goals. 

Gangwon started brightly with Jung Jo-gook continuing where he left off, following up his last minute winner against Suwon with another rocket into the top corner in the third minute of the match against Jeonbuk. Lopes equalized early in the second half before Diego regained the lead for the visitors, getting on the end of an Oh Beom-seok through-ball and holding off his marker before burying it in the far corner. 

Jeonbuk’s equalizer came when Lee Beom-young, like so many K League ‘keepers, opted to punch a corner that probably could have been caught. Unfortunately for him, he punched it into his own net. Some of Kim Shin-wook’s critics claim the K League makes him look better than he is, and that’s exactly what Gangwon’s defenders did in the 89th minute, not getting close enough to the national team targetman who was allowed to control the ball on his chest before turning and smashing it into the bottom corner to give Jeonbuk the inevitable three points.

Previous Meetings

Gangwon have only had three goalless draws all season, and two of them came against Pohang (the other, unsurprisingly, came against FC Seoul). Can Gangwon and Pohang complete the unwanted hat-trick of boredom? Hopefully not.

Team News

Star striker Uroš Ðerić has fallen behind Gyeongnam's Marcão in the golden boot race after only scoring once in Gangwon’s last seven games. Ðerić will be unable to add to his 23 league goals this season when Gangwon play Pohang as he is suspended for one game for picking up too many yellow cards.

One To Watch: Jung Jo-gook

With an off-form Ðerić suspended, ‘The Patriot’ Jung Jo-gook has a chance to add to his two goals in two matches and stake his claim for the target man role at Gangwon. The former Auxerre striker was top scorer in the K League in 2016 when he played for Gwangju, and he managed seven goals for Gangwon last season despite missing large spells through injury. With many clubs likely to be bidding for Ðerić in the winter, Jung will be hoping he can use the Serbian’s enforced absence to show why he should be Gangwon’s leading man next season.

The Adversary (by Ross Davis)

Pohang Steelers are on a three-game winning streak with all three victories being of a one-goal margin. This undoubtedly shows that the side has finally found some consistency as well as a bit of confidence at the business end of the season. 

Coming into this week’s fixture, the side will have the comfort of looking up the table rather than down as last weekend’s result cemented their place in the top half for the remainder of the season and they actually find themselves just six points shy of an automatic ACL place. Buoyed by their league position and with in-form players like Connor Chapman, Kim Seung-dae and standout keeper Kang Hyeon-mu, Pohang will be confident of getting a result in Chuncheon.

Last time out Pohang will consider themselves unlucky that that margin of victory was not greater than the one goal as Korea’s number one, Cho Hyun-woo produced some absolute worldie saves for Daegu. Of late, the Steelers have been producing some free-flowing attacking football and also crucially with a decent sized squad, and new additions performing well, have been able to rotate and look very fresh for the 31st game week of the season. 

As a result, minimal changes would be expected for Saturday’s match. Though, coach Choi Soon-ho does like to rotate at least his front three so Gamalho may be brought back into the starting lineup. But elsewhere the team picks itself for the most part in the standard 4-3-3.

Prediction

Gangwon's defense is a bit tighter these days and the goals aren't as frequent as they once were either. This could be the third 0-0 between these two sides.


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