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Preview: Gwangju FC vs Ansan Greeners

The Gwangju World Cup Stadium plays host to what could be both sides final game this season. Should Park Jin-seop’s hosts secure fifth place on Sunday, they will endure an uncertain atmosphere come the final whistle with play-off permutations still under scrutiny. Visitors Ansan, devoid of any attacking spirit in the past fortnight, head south safe in the knowledge that they are spared the wooden spoon thanks to Seoul E-Land’s demise.


Last Time Out

Gwangju travelled to fellow promotion hopefuls Busan to secure an impressive point thanks to Lee Seung-mo’s last-gasp equaliser. Lee’s scrambled back-post effort strengthens the Yellows hold on a potential play-off place, with Anyang and Suwon lurking. Named in the K-League’s team of the week, Robson Duarte got himself on the score sheet stealing in unmarked to calmly cushion his shot past Kim Hyung-geun. Conceding in their tenth consecutive match, Ahn Young-Kyu’s clumsly trip allowed Romelu to equalize from the spot before Lee Chung-woong added a second.

Ansan’s defence has shown some uncharacteristic steel in recent weeks, following a shutout at the Gudeok with another stalemate at home to Seoul-Eland. Ensuring their opponents had no opportunity to catch them in the table, Ansan forced their first consecutive clean sheets since April. Manager Lim Wan-seop brought Raul Tarragona off the bench, but the Uruguayan failed to influence the game.

Previous Meetings

Ansan’s last trip to Jeollanam-do was their last clean sheet on the road before Busan, earning a point in a 0-0 draw before having to wait until September for their first win away from home. Gwangju fans will need little reminder of the Greeners upturn in form around Chuseok, with Jang Hyuk-jin firing the decisive goal in a 3-2 Ansan victory. The Wa Stadium hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Gwangju this term, who also tasted a 2-0 defeat in June.

Team News

The hosts will be without forward Wang Gun-myung who will instead face Hong Kong this weekend with his Taiwan teammates, while prolific Brazilian playmaker Felipe is expected to return from suspension.

Ansan's Choi Ho-joo may have been particularly irked by Lim’s decision to drop him to the bench last Sunday considering he is the only Greeners player to score over three goals this season. Park Jin-seop may drop out having been subbed at half time at the Gudeok. Kim Hyun-tae is expected to start with Raul to feature as an impact sub. 

The Adversary

Ansan's final game of the season will give time for reflection on Lim Wanseop's brief time in charge of the side. After Lee Heung-sil's sacking, caretaker manager Lee Young-min had had a brief period of resurgence, laying extra scrutiny on how Lim ends this campaign. Unbeaten in three, but with only one win in his first five games, albeit an exciting 3-1 home win against 8th place rivals Bucheon, leaves Ansan fans hoping we have not yet seen what Lim's project will look like.

One big factor is the tightening up of defence, with two 0-0 draws in the previous two outings, most recently at home to E-land, which saw Ansan have a five minute end spell were E-land did very well to keep them out, is the big improvement over the mid-season collapse. This safety first, energy conservation approach might prove Ansan's most effective weapon. The reintroduction of Raul to the side, on as a late substitute, added an extra bit of class to Ansan's forward play and it looks like he will be the only foreign player staying on, with Conneh and Fidel nowhere to be seen inside the Wa Stadium. A draw might well be enough for Ansan to secure an 8th place finish, one higher than last season, with Bucheon level on points but ahead on head to head by virtue of wins [11-10, 37 goals to 32], despite Ansan having beaten them thrice this season, and having the better goal difference, hosting table topping Asan.


Who To Watch

Working his way through Sao Paulo’s state leagues, an uninspiring spell at Serie B side Vila Nova for Gwangju talisman Felipe de Souza Silva seemed to light a desire for the Brazilian to play in Asia. With a rumoured transfer to China failing to materialise, Felipe has settled in Jeollanam-do exceedingly well. No stranger to the referee’s notebook, 13 appearances following his July arrival have seen the midfielder notch on seven occasions. Should Gwangju fail to clinch a play-off berth this weekend, this game could be a further opportunity for Felipe to showcase himself ahead of the January transfer window.

Prediction

With the visitors only having the honour of beating last year’s league table position to play for Gwangju should finally break their Ansan hoodoo. While full time may not bring clarity in terms of the play-off picture, jubilant celebrations of Lee’s equalizer last weekend show that the Yellows firmly believe their season is by no means over.


Gwangju 2-1 Ansan Greeners

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