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Preview: Jeju United vs Gyeongnam FC


Jeju United are enjoying a good spell of form lately, as they prepare to welcome Gyeongnam FC to the island for the final time this season on the back of four straight wins in the league.  The Saturday afternoon kickoff marks the first of back-to-back fixtures at home in the Championship Round, before heading on the road to finish the season with dates away to Ulsan Hyundai and Suwon Bluewings, respectively.  Will the islanders continue their good run, or will their visitors exact a bit of revenge having lost to them last time the two sides met?  KLU's Branko Belan and James Edrupt preview the upcoming encounter.

Match: Jeju United vs Gyeongnam FC
Venue: Jeju World Cup Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday November 3rd, 2018; 14:00 KST

Last Time Out

Pohang Steelers 1-2 Jeju United

In what was essentially a must-win match for both teams, Jeju accomplished something it had never done before, securing a second league victory at the Steelyard this season.  For Jeju, it was critical to get a result, as they now face the top two sides in the league at home, beginning with Gyeongnam this weekend, and followed by runaway champions Jeonbuk in a week's time.

The first half was particularly tight, although possession largely favored the home side, but both teams were off target on several occasions.  The best chance of the half came early on from a corner, as the ball into the box was flashed just over the bar by Connor Chapman inside the first ten minutes.  

Things would spring to life in the second half, as both teams went in search of a goal to put them in position to take maximum points.  The first fifteen minutes followed much the same pattern as in the first half, with both teams off the mark, but it was Jeju who would have the first good chance to go in front on the hour mark, when Magno turned a defender and attempted a low shot on goal, but he was denied by the outstretched hands of Kang Hyun-moo.

Pohang then made a double substitution shortly afterwards in hopes of improving their fortunes, but it was Jeju who continued to pour on the pressure.  It finally paid off, as they went in front on 69 minutes through Kim Sung-ju, who connected from outside the box, and, despite Kang getting a hand to it, the ball deflected onto the underside of the crossbar and finished in the back of the net.

Not to be outdone, the Steelers would draw level less than ten minutes later, as Lee Seok-hyun slipped a short pass in between defenders for Lee Jin-hyun to convert on the turn, leaving Lee Chang-keun flat-footed between the sticks for Jeju.

Jeju would respond, however, when Lee Kwang-seon out-muscled Ha Chang-rae for a ball in the Pohang area, then managed to bring it under control and beat Kang with a low drive the Pohang 'keeper had little chance of stopping, and, it would prove to be the difference in the end, as the two teams are now level on points in the standings heading into the weekend.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Jeju and Gyeongnam have played each other very evenly this season, with each team recording a victory, and one match ending in a goalless draw.  The last time the two faced each other was last month, when Jeju came away from Changwon with a narrow 1-0 victory, thanks to an injury time winner from Lee Dong-soo.

The overall head-to-head between the two teams has been fairly even, although Jeju does have a slight edge, having won seven times to Gyeongnam's five, while eight matches have ended with both sharing the spoils.  Jeju's goals per game average over that span is also slightly better at 1.3 to Gyeongnam's 1.1, although the South Gyeongsang province outfit has caused problems for the islanders this season.

Team News

It has just been announced that Cho Sung-hwan will step down from his duties as manager of the club at the end of the season.  According to Goal.com's Steve Han, talks have already begun with prospective candidates, but a timetable to name his successor is yet to be determined.


Jeju will be without the services of Magno for the match against Gyeongnam, as he picked up his third yellow card against Pohang.  There is a chance that he will be replaced in the starting eleven by Kim Hyun, who recently came back to the club upon the completion of his military service.  He was the second leading goal scorer for newly crowned champions Asan Mugunghwa in K League 2 this season.

A number of players have been making an impact recently, and so, while there has been a bit more continuity in terms of selection in the past few weeks, those the likes of Lee Kwang-seon, the match winner against Pohang, and Lee Dong-soo, whose late winner was the difference in Jeju's win over Gyeongnam, could feature on Saturday afternoon.

Aleksandar Jovanovic, who has once again become a presence in the back since the departure of Oh Ban-seok, should also be penciled into the lineup following a string of solid performances from the Australian center-back.  There are no injury concerns of note for the islanders.

For Gyeongnam,  there is an injury concern with key central defender Park Ji-soo.  He came off last Sunday after aggravating his knee.  It is the same problem that flared up whilst he was away with the national team recently, which prevented him for even being named on the substitutes bench for the game against Uruguay.  The Reds’ have no other injury concerns or suspensions for the game this Saturday.

The Adversary


Gyeongnam FC go into Saturday's game on the back of a narrow 1-0 defeat away at Ulsan Hyundai last Sunday afternoon.  The result meant the Reds dropped a place out of the automatic ACL position, down from 2nd to 3rd place in the league.  It wasn’t through want of trying that they came away from the Munsu Stadium empty-handed.  They more than matched the home side throughout the ninety minutes.  Just again, as has been mentioned before in previous articles, the quality of the final pass in and around the final third was lacking in precision.

The Ulsan center back pairing of Windbichler and match winner Lim Jong-eun mopped up everything thrown at them.  They were kept busy all afternoon as a hungry looking Marcao was always in the game charging around and putting himself about linking well with Negueba and Kunimoto at every opportunity.  But, it was to no avail as the aforementioned Jong-eun rose highest at a corner with just fifteen minutes remaining on the clock and planted a header into the top left-hand corner leaving the away side's 'keeper Lee Bum-soo totally flat-footed.

The game this weekend will again be a tough test for Gyeongnam.  Jeju United have started to find form right at the perfect time winning their last four games in the league and returning back to the island after a superb 2-1 win away at the Steelyard last weekend.  This won’t be an easy game for the Reds at all.  The manager Kim Jung-boo will have to rally the troops for this one after the Ulsan defeat.


Prediction

Jeju has gathered momentum, rolling off four straight in the league, while Gyeongnam are looking to regroup after a loss to Ulsan last weekend.  The last run out for the islanders at home was against FC Seoul with only victory assuring a top half finish, and they managed to get the job done in a high pressure situation.

It will be no different on Saturday afternoon, as they will have to contend with the likes of Marcao, Negueba, and Kunimoto, and the back four will be counted on to keep the ball out of danger at all costs.  The good news is that they have Lee Chang-keun in goal, who is second in the league this season with fourteen clean sheets to his credit.

Gyeongnam will also have impetus to go for a result, as they have their sights set on reclaiming second spot in the table, which would secure automatic passage to the group stage in the Champions League next season.  

If the last few meetings are to serve as an indicator, it will be another close one, with the islanders knowing that even one slip up as the season comes to a close will dash any hopes of continental football next season.  Momentum will be a factor in this one, and so Jeju should be able to do just enough to edge it late as they have done in several key matches this season.

Prediction: Jeju United 2-1 Gyeongnam FC 

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