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FA Cup Final 2nd Leg Preview: Daegu FC vs. Ulsan Hyundai

With a thrilling 2-1 win over Ulsan in the first leg on Wednesday night, first-time cup finalist Daegu FC will host the current holders for the second encounter in this year’s FA Cup Final with the bigger hope that they could be in ACL for next year. Daegu FC Correspondent Muyeol Jung previews this clash with help from Ulsan Hyundai Correspondent Dan Croydon.
(image via Daegu FC)

Last Time Out

FA Cup Final 1st Leg: Ulsan Hyundai 1-2 Daegu FC

Ahead of the first leg of the FA Cup Final, the draw was regarded as a David versus Goliath match-up as Daegu FC have, not only never claimed a single win on the road to Ulsan since the club’s establishment in 2003, but also lost to Ulsan 2-0 three times on the bounce this season in the league. On the other hand, Daegu have been on a good form of run with seven games unbeaten, while Ulsan started to struggle throughout November.

With 12,000 spectators in attendance for the midweek game, the first half started in a very cautious way. From the beginning, as expected, the host tried to create chances on each flank, but the visitors looked well prepared and applied pressure to successfully take the ball away. Contrarily, it was the visitors who created more meaningful chances with the two Brazilians Cesinha and Edgar involved upfront. However, neither team were able to open the scoring heading into half time.

The second half was very different to the somewhat uneventful first. Hwang Ilsu stroked a curling ball into top corner with an excellent individual effort which Jo Hyunwoo was unable to keep out and prevent the the hosts from going 1-0 up. Afterwards, Daegu instantly responded with Cesinha’s goal. The Brazilian fired a shot along the ground and levelled the game after dribbling the ball near the penalty arc. After 1-1, Ulsan became more aggressive. They brought on Lee Keunho, Han Seunggyu, Kim Insung in order to add their second of the night.

Their efforts were almost successful, but Daegu defenders stayed focused and blocked a couple of shots with sliding tackles. Towards full time, Ulsan raised their defence line up to the halfway line, resulting in pockets of space in behind. Only three minutes away from time, s good cross on the right-side hit a beautiful trajectory and found towering centre forward Edgar who smashed the ball home with a very strong header. In the end, Daegu managed to get the first ever away win over Ulsan

Highlights: here

Post-Match Interview

Daegu FC Manager Andre Gaspar

(image taken by Daegu FC correspondent Muyeol Jung)

“It is psychologically uncomfortable to face off with Ulsan as it is an away game and they have the absolute upper hand in head-to head records. Before the match, I stressed that we need to play in defensive way without conceding and score on the counter, which we successfully did today.

“Edgar and Cesinha played major roles in this game, but we focused on systematic movement as one team, not individuals. Also, we trained intensely, preparing the team to counter from Jo Hyunwoo to Edgar via Cesinha, Kim Daewon.

“Daegu players personally know their former teammate Junior Negrao well and we watched an edited highlights thousands of times to analyse his movements and habits. Also, defenders were well prepared as a team as well as as individuals on their own.

“I think that psychological aspect will decide the trophy in the second leg. The final will be merely one of many games we have played so far in this season. I will try to give 100% confidence to players so that they can enjoy the game without so much stress.”

Ulsan Hyundai Manager Kim Dohoon

(image taken by Daegu FC correspondent Muyeol Jung)
“I expected Daegu to sit back and counter-attack and we prepared to prevent Daegu from doing that. However, in offence, we didn’t create as many chances as I expected, and conceding an equaliser at so soon after taking the lead which made the game harder for us go with our flow.”

Team News

Daegu FC

The great performance the Sky Blues showed off on Wednesday night fascinated not only Daegu fans, but also the neutrals. To be fair, not many people anticipated that Daegu were able to beat Ulsan on the road, but Andre’s side has successfully overturned worries into anticipation of Asian Champions League next year. By adding another win against Ulsan, Daegu extended their unbeaten run to eight games in all competitions.

Atmosphere and morale in the team could not be better at this time. In a circumstance where Daegu don't have a great deal of options at their disposal, Daegu’s strategy for the second leg of the final will be very similar to the previous one. From the beginning, they will be looking to remain resolute to Ulsan’s aggressive attacks. As time is ticking in this tie, Ulsan will perhaps be hurried, which could enable Daegu to have more space in behind. However, if Daegu concede an early goal, then they will have more disadvantages due to less options off the bench as well as fatigue. Therefore, for Daegu, it will be important to play in a more disciplined manner.

In the meantime, the final will mark the final match ever played in Daegu Stadium which has served as home to Daegu FC since 2003 as they are set to move to a brand-new stadium near the city centre ahead of 2019. Therefore, the passion to win this match will be bigger than any other.

The Adversary

Ulsan have it all to do on Saturday afternoon as they must score at least two goals to stand any chance of lifting the cup.  That won't be easy after the disappointing nature of the first leg defeat. It came as no surprise that Daegu were content to sit deep with a five man backline, then hit Ulsan on the break. It was surprising though that the Sky Blues were the more aggressive and committed team.  Ulsan manager Kim Dohoon may claim his side were prepared tactically, but the lapses in concentration that led to Daegu's two goals showed that his team were not mentally prepared enough for such a vital game.

The tie is far from over though. Despite long spells of frustration on Wednesday night, Ulsan were able to create multiple chances which on any other night, would have found their way into the back of the net. Kim Seungjun and Mix Diskerud couldn't quite get the ball out of their feet fast enough, while Richard Windbichler missed a golden chance from an injury-time set piece.

Kim Dohoon is unlikely to change much in terms of strategy for this second leg. However, he will be asking his players for a lot more intensity from the moment the whistle blows for kickoff.  Star players like Junior, Han Seungkyu, and Kim Insung will have to come deeper to get on the ball in order to pull Daegu's rigid backline out of shape, while the midfield duo of Diskerud and Park Yongwoo will need to do more to protect the back four from the illusive Cesinha. So, the Horangi still have a chance to retain their FA Cup title, but they will know they will have to fight a lot harder this time if they are to do it.

by Dan Croydon

Who To Watch

image via Daegu FC
Daegu FC playmaker Cesinha, was absolutely astonishing on the pitch in the first leg of the final. Daegu could have lost to Ulsan had it not have been for his equaliser. The Brazilian joined Daegu ahead of the 2016 season, and immediately he helped Daegu win promotion to K League 1 with 11 goals and eight assists. Following promotion, he successfully made the transition to the first division with seven goals and seven assists. For 2018, he was honourably awarded with the most assists in the league with 11.

As we have already seen on Wednesday, he is a game changer for Daegu, equipped with dribbling, shooting, and passing. In this game, he will undoubtedly play a pivotal role on the pitch in terms of game management and offensive strategy.


Ulsan likely will take a very aggressive approach from the beginning as there is nothing to lose, while Daegu will be looking to hit the Horangi on counter and make the most of set plays. Subsequently, this could result in Ulsan giving away unnecessary freekicks which Daegu could take advantage of.

Daegu FC 1-1 Ulsan Hyundai

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