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Preview: Pohang Steelers vs Jeju United

Preview: Pohang Steelers vs Jeju United K League 1
The top-half split kicks off with fifth placed Pohang Steelers taking on sixth placed Jeju United at the Steelyard this Saturday. Three points separate the sides and both will have aspirations to at least compete for fourth place in the hope that the ACL place is passed down through an Ulsan FA Cup victory. Pohang Columnist Ross Davis and Jeju's Branko Belan preview this K League 1 Round 34 fixture. 
(image via K League)

Last Time Out

Suwon Bluewings 2-0 Pohang Steelers

Highlights here

The FA Cup semi-finalists, Suwon, extended their good form against Pohang with a comfortable two-nil victory. The visitors are now win-less against Suwon in 14 and more importantly slipped to fifth in the table behind the Bluewings.

A tightly contested first half saw the Steelers have the lion's share of possession but relying on keeper Kang Hyun-moo to keep them level as the half ended nil-nil. The deadlock was eventually broken on the hour mark Kim Jung-min heading in from close range after an impressive spell of keep-ball by the home side.

After the opener both sides continued to create chances with Pohang having the best of them. Kim Seung-dae and Kim Ji-min were both guilty of missing one-on-ones with Suwon's No Dong-geon producing decent saves on both occasions but really shouldn't have had the chance.

The victory was sealed with five minutes remaining as Pohang pushed forward in search of the equaliser, the hosts countered down the left and Lee Jung-seong squared for substitute Kim Jong-woo to beautifully scuff into the net.

The result sees Suwon overtake Pohang in the table and move into fourth place. The Steelers suffered their first defeat in five matches and won't relish the opportunity to again face their bogey team at the same venue in a week's time.

Jeju United 1-0 F.C. Seoul

Highlights here

Jeju locked up a place in the top half after last Saturday afternoon thanks to their 1-0 victory at home against FC Seoul, who had already been resigned to finish in the relegation bracket.

The islanders started the match in a relatively defensive 4-5-1 formation, with Magno playing behind Tiago and Kim Ho-nam presenting himself on the left flank as a constant threat to the Seoul back line. With Evandro and Anderson Lopes both starting up front for the squad from the nation’s capital, the thought was that Jeju’s back line would have their hands full for the full ninety minutes, but they held up quite well.

The breakthrough finally came in the 82nd minute when Tiago capitalized on a defensive error from Kim Nam-chun and fired home low to Yang Han-bin’s left.

By Branko Belan


 Previous Meetings

Pohang Steelers have the advantage historically between the two sides, coming out on top 18 times to Jeju's 14. The islanders have managed just six victories at the Steelyard and also four draws.

They added to both those fields this season. Taking a 1-0 victory in the first meeting back in April and last time it was a 2-2 draw with Pohang twice coming from behind when the recently signed Kim Ji-min got a brace to secure a draw for the home side. The hosts are win-less in five in this fixture and have only managed to score four times in those games compared to their opponent's nine.


Team News

Neither side have any suspensions coming into this fixture. The hosts have no new injury worries but are still likely to rotate slightly as coach Choi Soon-ho likes to do between away and home fixtures. Pohang's Brazilian striker Gamalho was left out of the lineup for the Suwon game but may find himself on the bench for the weekend.

The Adversary

After the last match with FC Seoul, Cho Sung-hwan said “Even though time was slow, the fans kept cheering and we were able to finish in sixth spot for the top half. It wasn’t the best performance, but we got the three points. I am just sorry that we could not match the performance of last year.”

“I will do my best to have Jeju’s best football on display in the top half so that it will create a positive atmosphere inside the stadium,” he added.

The goal for Jeju now is to take each match one at a time, as they currently sit only five points out of a playoff spot for next year’s Asian Champions League, something inconceivable after a stretch this season which saw them go win-less in fifteen matches. Nonetheless, they have rebounded somewhat recently, winning three consecutive starts in the league.

In other team news, Kim Hyun has returned to the club from Asan Mugunghwa after completing his military service. There is a slight chance he may be able to contribute to the team down the stretch, as he is seen as one for the future for the Tangerine Army, evidenced by his performances for the K League 2 military side. He was scouted closely as a young player by Cho, and could potentially be used as an attacking threat in several positions up front.

The Championship Round will be a test for Jeju as they will only have two matches at home, against the top two regular season teams, Gyeongnam and Jeonbuk in Rounds 35 and 36. But, it will be the team directly above them who they need to focus on first – a trip to the Steelyard next time out against Pohang.

By Branko Belan


Prediction

This clash pits together the two lowest scorers of the Championship Round and this may be a tight affair with neither team wanting to give the other an advantage with just five games of the season remaining. In recent fixtures there hasn't been much to separate the two sides so the most likely event for this Saturday appears to be a low scoring draw.

Pohang Steelers 1-1 Jeju United



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