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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Suwon Bluewings

Gyeongnam FC head into Sunday's clash with the knowledge that a victory against Suwon Bluewings will go a long way to securing automatic qualification into the 2019 Asian Champions League.  The Reds' season on the whole as a newly promoted side has been a truly magnificent effort.  The Bluewings have been a real bogey side for the home side this campaign, however.  Suwon remained unbeaten against Gyeongnam in the regular season, defeating them twice at the Big Bird and drawing once at Changwon Football Center.  This weekend's encounter will hopefully prove to be a game of high quality with both teams possessing a lot of talent in attacking areas.  

Match:  Gyeongnam FC vs Suwon Bluewings
Venue: Changwon Football Center.  Changwon
Kick off: November 25th.  Sunday. 14:00 (KST)

Last Time Out

Gyeongnam 1-2 Pohang Steelers

Pohang inflicted Gyeongnam's third loss at home this season.  It was a real 'smash and grab' job by the fourth-placed side.  The Reds' had the Steelers pinned back in their own half for the majority of the contest but it was Pohang who returned to the Steelyard with all three points courtesy of goals from midfielder Lee Seok-hyun on the stroke of half-time, and a match winner from marauding wing-back Kang Sang-woo on 76 minutes.  Lee Seok-hyun's finish for the opener was an absolute beauty as he delightfully curled a right foot shot with nestled in the bottom corner via the post.  Gyeongnam deservedly drew level after the break on 67 minutes through captain Choi Young-jun as he was first to react to a Marcão knockdown in the box and rifled home on the volley from eight yards out.  But it was to be the Steelers' afternoon as the ever running Kim Seung-dae broke on the right-hand side of midfield in acres of space, bursting over the halfway line and, with still a lot to do, had the vision to pick out the run of the scampering Kang Sang-woo.  His willingness to keep up with Seung-dae was justified as, from the cross, he had the simple task of firing it past the scrambling Song Jung-hyun in the home side's goal.  A textbook example of how to hit a team on the break in lethal fashion.

Suwon Bluewings 3-3 Ulsan Hyundai

This clash was undoubtedly one of the games of the season, as the scoreline suggests.  Ulsan raced into a two-goal lead with the game only 18 minutes old.  The first goal was scored by the dynamic midfield figure of Hwang Il-soo who nipped onto a through ball from Kim Seung-jun.  He still had a bit to do but he calmly curled the ball past the outstretched arms of the advancing second choice keeper No Dong-geon in the home side's goal.  Ulsan doubled their advantage with a goal of real quality from an unlikely source as center back Park Yong-woo crept up from defence to join in with a glorious move down the right-hand side for Ulsan.  As the ball was laid into his path about 25 yards out from goal, he struck the ball with his laces and it flew in to the net off the underside of the bar.  A quick confirmation from VAR confirmed the ball had clearly gone over the line.  But the game was not over by any means, and this Bluewings side just does not seem to know when they are beaten.  Six minutes after the break they got themselves back into the game through, who else, but striker Dejan.  A simple finish after a devastating break started from Suwon's own penalty area ended with Dejan firing past Cho Soo-hyuk from right yards to reduce the arrears.  Then, with 15 minutes remaining, striker Park Gi-dong smashed home an equalizer from a difficult angle after a defensive headed clearance was misplaced right into his feet.  It was a rocket of a finish.  It was beyond the Ulsan goalkeeper before he could move.  The Bluewings really had their tails up and, against all odds, managed to grab what they thought would be the winner through attacking midfielder Kim Jung-woo.  He will have striker Dejan to thank for his goal.  The striker's cross was inch-perfect,  with Kim not even having to break stride as he planted a header past Soo-hyuk in the away sides goal to send the home fans into raptures.   But there was to be a twist to this quite remarkable game in the dying embers of the contest.  It came courtesy of the league's third highest goalscorer in Junior with a textbook header from a superb cross from the left-hand side.  He met and timed his jump perfectly and flicked the ball beyond the despairing dive of No Dong-geon in the Suwon goal.

Previous Meetings

The sides have met three times this season with The Bluewings winning two and drawing the other.  The first game was early on in the season with Suwon winning quite convincingly 3-1 at home.  They played again in the peak of summer and both sides fought out a very competitive contest at the Changwon Football Center which ended in a 2-2 draw.  Then, in more recent months, Suwon won a home game against The Reds 1-0 with a wonder strike from center back Kwak Kwang-seon on 74 minutes.  Overall they have played each other 31 times with Gyeongnam only winning on eight occasions, Suwon winning 13 times and ten ending in draws.

Team News

It seems to be a recurring theme with Gyeongnam in recent months with the team sweating on the fitness of their main man, in striker Marcão.  He had to be stretchered off against Pohang a fortnight ago with what looked like a nasty arm injury after he landed awkwardly after he contested a ball in the area.  He was clearly in a lot of pain writhing on the floor in agony.  Strike partner Kim Hyo-gi has been noticeably absent the last two games with an unknown knock.  Manager Kim Jung-boo will be wanting him fit if Marcão is unable to pass a fitness test for the clash.  Central defender Park Ji-soo will be chomping at the bit to test his mettle against the Suwon attackers as he made his National Team debut against Uzbekistan midweek.  The rest of the Gyeongnam squad is at full strength with no suspensions.

The Adversary 

Conceding that last minute equalizer to Ulsan two weeks ago was almost the final nail in Seo Jung-won’s coffin and if Pohang pick up a point at home to Jeonbuk, on Sunday afternoon, then Suwon will have no chance of finishing in 4th position, and have the chance of qualifying for the 2019 edition of the ACL. In truth, even if Pohang do drop all three points in that game, Suwon will still face an uphill challenge, as they will need to win both their remaining games and rely on Pohang to lose both of theirs, a scenario that is extremely unlikely. Given Suwon’s poor form of late (no win from their last 5 games) it would be forgivable for the team to throw in the towel before they even kick off. But, there is still technically something to play for in this game and a victory, doubled with a Pohang loss, would at least make things interesting going into the final game of the season next week. Seo Jung-won has a full complement of players to choose from, but the temporary manager should focus on his formation rather than the individuals in his squad. Playing in a 4-3-3 formation, Suwon put in one of their worst performances of the season in the first half against Ulsan, and they quickly found themselves 2-0 down in the game. However, the introduction of Park Ki-dong and a switch to a 4-4-2, just before halftime, swung the game in Suwon’s favour and their second-half fightback showcased everything good about the Suwon squad. Whenever Suwon have operated in that 4-4-2 formation this season they have always looked threatening, and they have always created chances. With their season on the line, and with the players desperately needing to show some fight, 4-4-2 is certainly needed in this game.

(By Scott Whitelock)


This game does tend to have goals in it.  Nine goals in the three games this season to be precise.  With both teams have very attacking minded players in them, it is fair to expect more this Sunday.  As Gyeongnam will be playing their last home game this season before finishing up with an away trip to already crowned champions elect Jeonbuk, they will want to send their home fans away happy with three points.

Predicted Score: Gyeongnam 2-1 Suwon Bluewings

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