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Preview: Pohang Steelers vs Ulsan Hyundai

With a potential ACL place secure for hosts Pohang Steelers their eyes may well be fixed on rivals Ulsan Hyundai's FA Cup final showpiece next week rather than the 53rd East Coast Derby and season finale this Sunday. However, local bragging rights are up for grabs and both sides will want a positive result heading into the close season albeit with perhaps less aggression than a typical meeting between the two. Pohang columnist Ross Davis spoke with Ulsan correspondent Dan Croydon on the Season's derby finale. 

Last Time Out

Pohang Steelers 1-1 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Highlights here

The Steelers got the crucial point they were after that clinches fourth place and a potential spot in next season's Asian Champions League with a game to spare. The hosts were good value for the point and perhaps should have taken home all three after a pulsating finish to the game where they seemed to have Jeonbuk on the ropes.

An open first half saw both sides create chances but neither able to break the deadlock. Kim Seung-dae coming closest for the east coast side when he broke away down the right, in what has been a constant image this season, and shot across the goal beating the goalkeeper but Kim Min-jae was on hand to clear even if the shot may have been going wide. For Jeonbuk Han Gyo-won had a couple of half-chances but failed to test Kang Hyun-moo in Pohang's goal.

The second half opened with a bang as Kim Do-hyung almost had the hosts in front when his header hit the post. Despite threatening Pohang fell behind just before the hour mark. Forward Kim Ji-min was adjudged to have fouled Son Jun-ho despite contact appearing to be just outside the area and Son tumbling over somewhat unconvincingly Jeonbuk was rewarded the penalty, which Lopes dispatched to put the Champions ahead.

Feeling aggrieved the Steelers rallied and pulled level when Kim Ji-min atoned with a great first time finish after a deep through ball over the top by Teixeira. The final five minutes were frantic as both sides went for the winner but both will be happy with the point in the end.

Ulsan Hyundai 0-1 Jeju United

Highlights here

The away side took home the three points despite largely being outplayed and certainly being dwarfed on the shot stats. Ulsan had 13 shots of which Junior had five with the side hitting the target nine times. In contrast the visitors mustered just four shots with three of those being on target and crucially one found the net.

The goal came on the 64th minute and was somewhat fortuitous in nature, as a deep swinging cross from the left came off Ulsan left back and landed at the feet of Magno who made no mistake from six yards. Ulsan's own Brazilian had headed over from a similar position in the first half granted the chance was much more difficult than the one Magno struck home for the games only goal. 


Previous Meetings

Overall, it's almost neck and neck in terms of wins with Ulsan edging out their rivals by a solitary win, 19 to 18. This season has seen them overtake the Steelers in the win column; Ulsan have two victories to Pohang's one.

The last game saw Ulsan run out comfortable two-nil winners at the Munsu, which was the first meeting in six where one of the teams had ended up scoreless. Pohang have only won once in the last seven meetings as their rivals have enjoyed a better last couple of years both in this fixture and in general.

Team News

Pohang Steelers welcome back midfielder Connor Chapman after he missed out through suspension last time out. The return and subsequent assist of Brazilian right back Teixeira should be enough for the summer window transfer to keep his place. Expect Pohang to line up in their typical 4-3-3 unless coach sees the game as an opportunity to experiment as he has done on occasion this season, often at the wrong times.

For Ulsan Dan Croydon predicts 'backup defenders such as Jeong Dong-ho and Kim Chang-so are likely to take the field, while midfielder Jung Jae-yong may feature after returning from injury. He will lineup alongside youngsters Lee Young-jae and Kim Geon-woong. Upfront I expect Junior to drop to the bench, making way for either Kim Seung-jun or perhaps even 19-year-old Oh Se-hun. 

The Adversary

In what has to be the lowest ever stake East Coast Derby, Ulsan manager Kim Do-hoon is under next to no pressure to get a result this Sunday. Therefore I expect a second-string starting lineup ahead of the FA Cup Final 1st leg on Wednesday. travelling fans may be disappointed to see their heroes warming the bench, but all will be forgotten by kick off against Daegu. 

It seems a rather anti-climatic way for the Horangi to end what has been, for the most part, an entertaining and encouraging league campaign. But with a trophy on the line and ACL fates to be decided, Ulsan have much more important concerns than a match with the Steelers. And, by a strange twist of fate, I'm sure everyone connected with Pohang heartily agrees.


Prediction

The hosts come into the game in better form as they are undefeated in three whereas Ulsan are winless in three. That on top of the obvious distraction of next week's Fa Cup two-legged final and probable weakened starting 11, and the smart money has to be with the Steelers who could even up the historical win record between the two rivals.

Pohang Steelers 2-1 Ulsan Hyundai



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