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Preview: Jeonnam Dragons vs Sangju Sangmu

Jeonnam Dragons welcome Sangju Sangmu to Gwangyang this Sunday afternoon in the first round of this season's post-split matches in K League 1. Can Jeonnam continue their good home form and leapfrog relegation rivals Sangju in the table? Or will the army team give their own survival chances a boost and send the home side closer to the drop? Aodan Halligan previews this weekend's huge bottom of the table clash.

Game: Jeonnam Dragons v Sangju Sangmu
Venue: Gwangyang Football Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday 2pm.

Last Time Out

Jeonnam Dragons' winless run against Daegu FC extended to five matches following a 2-1 defeat in Daegu last Saturday. After a scrappy first half, the game burst into life in the 65th minute when Wanderson was brought down in the left side of the penalty box. The referee pointed straight to the spot before Wanderson dusted himself down and blasted the ball into the bottom right corner of the net - sending the keeper the wrong way in the process. But, five minutes later, Daegu were back on level terms after Cesinha's hopeful high ball found Edgar Silva just inside the penalty box. The Brazilian out jumped Dragons defender Heo Jae-won before sending a bullet header into the left corner of the net from around 14 yards out. And in the 76th minute the home side turned the game on its head, Jung Seung-won applying the finish to Kim Dae-won's low left wing cross from around five yards out.

Full Time: Daegu FC 2 Jeonnam Dragons 1

Highlights: here 

Sangju Sangmu were also on the wrong side of a 2-1 scoreline last Saturday in Changwon against second-placed Gyeongnam FC. Despite being on top for the first 20 minutes, the visitors conceded a penalty in the 25th minute after Lee Min-ki barged into Gyeongnam attacker Bae Ki-jong close to the penalty spot. And K League 1 top goalscorer Marcao side-footed the ball into the right-hand corner to notch up his 26th goal of the season. Gyeongnam went further in front in the 81st minute - Takahiro Kunimoto doing the damage on this occasion. The Japanese attacker went on a mazy run and even though his left foot shot was blocked down inside the Sangju penalty box, he stepped up once more and blasted an unstoppable shot with the outside of his left peg into the net via the underside of crossbar. But just two minutes later, Park Yong-ji dispossessed Gyeongnam keeper Lee Bum-soo and Song Si-woo pulled one back for the visitors from the edge of the penalty box. Gyeongnam saw the game out, however, and Sangju are now without a win in five matches.

Full Time: Gyeongnam FC 2 Sangju Sangmu 1

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Jeonnam Dragons appear to have Sangju Sangmu's number this season as they've taken seven points from the three meetings between the sides. And Jeonnam triumphed 2-1 the last time these teams met in Sangju on September 1st. Macedo headed the Dragons in front in the 36th minute that day and when Sangju defender Kim Min-woo's turned Heo Yong-joon's low left wing cross into his own net in the 79th minute, it looked like the army team were dead and buried. However, Sim Dong-won's 88th minute tap-in from two yards out gave the home side hope and only the foot of the right post prevented the same player from earning his side a share of the spoils deep into stoppage time.

Jeonnam also boast the better head-to-head record from the 42 games between the sides. The Dragons won 24 victories of those games, whereas Sangju only triumphed eight times. The other ten meetings ended in draws.

Team News

Jeonnam Dragons have just five games to preserve their K League status and thus will no doubt be hoping to avoid injuries and suspensions this Sunday.  Long-term injury casualty Ha Tae-goon should miss out once again this week and Dragons' head coach Kim In-wan must be particularly concerned about his engine room as key midfielders Vedran Jugovic and Han Chan-hee are just a single booking away from one-match bans. Elsewhere, central defender Heo Jae-won will also have to be careful as if he picks up one more yellow card, he'll also be forced to sit one out. 

The Adversary


Sangju Sangmu have only won one of their last thirteen games and since three of their post-split fixtures are away from home, the army side are now serious candidates for relegation. With just 38 league goals to their name, from 33 games this season (an average of 1.15 per game), Sangju have the third worst goal-scoring record in the league. And having conceded 13 goals in their last five games, it's safe to say holes have started to appear at the other end of the field. More worryingly, Sangju now lie just one point and one place above Jeonnam Dragons in the relegation zone with only five K League 1 matches remaining. However, a single point goes a long way at the business end of the season and because Sangju also boast a far superior goal difference to the Dragons,one wonders whether head coach Kim Tae-wan's side will be tempted to shut up shop and go for a draw. This strategy is not without risks, though, as bottom side Incheon United are only three points adrift and well capable of reeling the soldiers in.

Prediction

Both teams are fighting for their lives, but Jeonnam are undefeated in five home matches under head coach Kim In-wan and I expect the run to continue.

Jeonnam Dragons 3 Sangju Sangmu 2


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