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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Jeju United

K League 1 Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Jeju United

Gyeongnam FC play against a Jeju United side looking to avoid being dragged into the relegation dogfight with just two games remaining until the league splits into two groups.  The Reds, on the other hand, will be looking to cement themselves in second place and continue with their pursuit of securing an Asian Champions League berth.

Game:  Gyeongnam FC v Jeju United
Venue:  Changwon Football Center.  Changwon.
Date: Sunday, October 7th 14:00 (KST)

Last Time Out

Incheon United 2-2 Gyeongnam

This game had quite the grandstand finish with Incheon salvaging a point from a game they looked dead and buried in midway through the second half.  Goals from Kim Hyo-gi and Brazilian winger Paulinho had initially put Gyeongnam in total control. Kim Hyo-gi opened the scoring just six minutes before the break and he won't score an easier goal all season. The Incheon goalkeeper Jung San parried a cross right into his path and Kim had the simple task of cushioning the ball into an open net. 

At halftime, Incheon United brought on National team forward Moon Seon-min to add some pace to their attack.  He made an instant impact running in behind the Reds defence and causing the defensive pairing of Park Ji-soo and Kim Hyun-hun several problems after his introduction.  Then,  against the run of play, Paulinho out of nowhere smashed in a second for the away side and it was a beautiful effort to double the advantage,  The Brazilian ran onto a Marcao knockdown and from the edge of the box unleashed a curling effort bent around Jung San in the home sides goal.  Jung San got a hand to the ball, but the sheer power of the shot meant it was always destined for the bottom corner. 

Incheon, however, through their sheer persistence, deservedly pulled a goal back that their play deserved with 80 minutes on the clock through Costa Rician playmaker Elias Aguilar.  It was a fortuitous goal in all honesty.  A free kick was floated into the box and it missed everyone and it went straight into the net through a sea of bodies, leaving Gyeongnam keeper Son Jung-hyun unsighted.  Incheon United could smell blood and they got their equalizer with two minutes remaining through the ever running center forward Mugosa who ran onto a lovely weighted through ball by Moon Seon-min and slotted past the advancing Jung-hyun to send the home fans wild.

Jeju United 1-0 Jeonnam Dragons

Jeju United have been having a terrible season by their lofty standards.  They were sitting in ninth place in the league before this fixture and were in danger of being dragged into a relegation dogfight if they had lost this one last Saturday afternoon.  But they didn't lose it.  They beat an ever-improving Jeonnam Dragons outfit who in recent weeks have been very impressive all over the park.  This game was decided midway through the first half through in-form Brazilian Tiago Marques arriving late at the back post to finish a cross from fellow countryman Magno Cruz.  Marques now has scored a goal in each of his last three games.  Poor form has taken it's toll on the Jeju support, however. Only 1684 were in attendance in the Jeju World Cup stadium in Seogwipo.  A very low attendance for a team of Jeju United stature.

Previous Meetings

Gyeongnam are actually turning into a bit of a bogey side for Jeju United.  Gyeongnam haven't lost to the Islanders in six games, winning two of them and drawing the other four games during that span.  They have met twice this campaign, with the first game ending in a 2-0 home win for Gyeongnam.  Negueba and Kunimoto were the men on the scoresheet that day.  Jeju had Cho-Yong-hyung dismissed just seven minutes before the interval.   The second game ended in a drab 0-0 draw in Seongwipo.  The overall stats between the two sides are that they've played each other 30 times.  Gyeongnam have won ten, Jeju have won eight and the remaining 12 games have ended in draws.

The Adversary

Jeju have finally gotten the proverbial monkey off their back, winning at home last weekend against Jeonnam Dragons to sweep their head to head series this season. On deck, however, is a much sterner test against a Gyeongnam side who they have failed to beat this season. With the only other remaining match against Seoul before the split, this figures to dictate where Jeju will finish the season – or, put in other words, whether they fall into the championship or relegation bracket. Jeju has been known as an offensive juggernaut in recent years, but the goals have dried up during this campaign, with the Islanders only managing to find the net 35 times, and, with a loss, are destined for their worst finish in the league since 2013, when they finished ninth, albeit in a fourteen team league back then.

With the recent departure of Oh Ban-seok, the back line is in re-tooling mode, and it’s already starting to show. While they haven’t been extremely bad, defensive lapses have cost United in a lot of key games this season, and, knowing the quality of opposition they will be facing on Sunday, it looks as if it’s going to be a long shift on the pitch. The Brazilian duo of Magno and Tiago, from whom so much was expected this season, combined for the winner last weekend. The conventional logic would be to start both up top, but Cho Sung-hwan’s tactical decisions this season have left much to be desired. A big part of the problem is that the pair has not played together enough on a regular basis to produce the output that was hoped for at the beginning of the season. If in fact, they do partner up, it would give the team a more realistic chance of achieving a result. Jung Da-hwon was booked last weekend, so there is a good chance he may not play against Gyeongnam to save him from suspension, while Cho Yong-hyung is eligible to return following his one match ban for a pair of yellow cards against Ulsan in midweek over the Chuseok break.

Predicting the starting eleven is a monumental task, especially with the frequent rotation recently, but one man who will be a mainstay in attack is Kim Ho-nam, who recently returned to the club upon the completion of his military service, and has shown well since donning the tangerine colors once again.

By Branko Belan (Jeju United columnist)

Team News

For the home side manager Kim Jung-boo has the luxury of selecting from a full-strength squad.   Marcao was stretchered off against Incheon United last week but the news is he will be fit to be in the squad.  The alarm bells I feel however might start to be ringing somewhat after the Reds have squandered leads in their last two games.  They were beating Daegu 2-1 a fortnight ago until they got pegged back and conceded a last-minute equalizer.  Just last Sunday against Incheon United they were in total cruise control going into the last ten minutes leading 2-0.  United to their credit never gave up and scored two goals in the last ten minutes.  Gyeongnam have got to become more streetwise and know when to "shut up shop" and become better at protecting a lead.  Manager Kim-Jung-boo for all the praise he rightly receives for his attacking tactics and the way Gyeongnam break down an opponent in the attacking third, he may have to get to work on the training ground and focus on how they can stop conceding late goals in games.

One to Watch

Park Ji-soo

Park Ji-soo's performances this season have gone under the radar somewhat with Marcao, Negueba and Kunimoto to name a few getting all the spotlight throughout the campaign.  His performances by the supporters and now the Korean National Team manager Paulo Bento have not gone unnoticed.  Ji-soo has been selected to represent Korea in the forthcoming friendlies matches against Uruguay and Panama. The last Gyeongnam player to play for Korea was Yoon Bit-garam over seven years ago.

He has formed a wonderful partnership alongside Kim Hyun-hun.  His pace over a short distance is explosive and he is a towering presence in the box when defending set pieces.  He can pop up with the odd goal now and again as well.  He was a mainstay in the Reds promotion season last year getting them back into K League 1.  A player who just goes about his business in the right way and is rarely injured.  He will be facing an in-form striker in Marques this Sunday.  With the added confidence of getting a national team call-up will naturally give him, he will be comping at the bit to get this game underway on Sunday.


Jeju United struggle to score goals. They are joint lowest with FC Seoul with 35 goals.  However Gyeongnam have conceded five goals in their last 3 games and are looking a little jaded after a long season.  United will be going into the game knowing a win would push them away from that relegation bottom six bracket.  A win for Gyeongnam would be huge in their ACL push.   I am going with the home advantage here.

Predicted Score: Gyeongnam FC 3-1 Jeju United 

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