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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Seongnam FC

Seongnam FC make their triumphant return to K League 1 this Friday and will immediately be put to  test against last season's second place finisher, Gyeongnam FC. For Seongnam this presents a chance to make a statement to the league that they are here to stay. For Gyeongnam's part they are looking to build off of last season's success with a strong start.

Last Time Out

Seongnam spent their training camp in Thailand and Japan, and has had a series of exhibition matches throughout the months of January and February. This has been a time to give the new players some experience as well as build some team chemistry. In Japan, Seongnam racked up two victories against J2 side JEF United Chiba and J3 side Azul Cruz FC. In their final match against J3 side SC Sagamihara neither team could find the back of the net and the game ended in a 0-0 draw.

Previous Meetings

The last meeting between these two sides occurred in 2017 when both teams were members of the K League 2 (then the K League Challenge). Gyeongnam took the season series with 3 victories and a draw, and went on to the win the league convincingly earning 79 total points and only losing 4 matches the entire season.

Team News

Seongnam FC said goodbye to last season's top-scorer Jung Sung-min this week in a trade with Busan IPark. In return, striker Kim Hyun-sung will be joining the team for the 2019 season. Hyun-sung has had injury issues in the past and was only able to score once last season, however he has netted 15 goals in 123 games since his professional debut. Additionally he was a bronze medalist at the London 2012 Olympics.

This deal is a bit of a head-scratcher for Seongnam especially since players feel they can place in the top half of the table this season. Jung Sung-min led Seongnam in goals last season with 10 and considering Seongnam's struggles to put the ball in the back of the net the impact of the loss of the teams best striker cannot be overstated. It will be interesting to see how Kim Hyun-Sung will fit in with Seongnam and if the team can fill the void left behind by Sung-min.

The Adversary

Gyeongnam FC go into their 2019 campaign on Friday against newly promoted Seongnam FC with the sole aim of getting their season off to a flier. The Changwon Football Center was a fortress in 2018 and Gyeongnam will hope to replicate that again this year. The Reds lost at home only three times in the league, twice against run-away leaders Jeonbuk and once against a resurgent Jeju United side vying to get into the top six half of the league.
This opening fixture won’t be a walk in the park by any means for Gyeongnam. Seongnam will come with a game plan to frustrate the home side and play on the break to gain the upper hand, and they won’t mind the Reds having more possession than them. During their promotion back to the top flight, the Magpies were watertight at the back and they were not a team to win by a wide margin at all.

Gyeongnam will come into the clash as clear favorites, with new foreign imports Jordon Mutch and Luc Castaignos chomping at the bit to make their home debuts. How many minutes they actually get will be monitored as the home side have a very important game on Tuesday, against Chinese super league side Shandong Luneng in the Asian Champions League.

Both Lee Young-jae and Kim Seung-jun, new recruits from Ulsan Hyundai, will slot into the midfield alongside Negueba and Kunimoto. Kim has been in fine form in pre-season scoring five goals in four games during their training camp in Namhae. Towering center back Lee Kwang-seon, signed from Jeju United, and who is in a similar mold to the recently departed Park Ji Soo, will come in to marshal the back line. Long term absentee from last season,  Lee Jae-myung, has been seen running with no ill effects in preseason, so the marauding left back will be a welcome sight back on the Changwon turf.

I can see this game being a bit of a cagey affair with Seongnam soaking up a fair bit of pressure. It’ll be up to the home side to come up with something special to unlock a good Magpies defence.

- James Edrupt

Who To Watch

With the loss of Sung-min and Kim Hyun-sung still new to the club, Éder will be the player to watch as the team will rely on him, at least initially, to make a big impact and make up for the loss of last season's top scorer. Look for Éder to play up front and take a lot of shots. 

Another player to watch is foreign newcomer, Mathias Coureur. Seongnam expect him to make a huge impact down the sidelines this season with his pace and dribbling abilities. He will be looking to get the ball downfield and set up scoring opportunities especially against Gyeongnam's tough defence. Additionally Mathias will be looking to make an impact early on in the season to prove himself to both Seongnam and the K League.


Seongnam FC are not getting an easy re-introduction into the K League 1 this week. Gyeongnam is a very strong side and I expect Seongnam to struggle at the start especially with new players still adjusting to a new team.

Gyeongnam FC 2-1 Seongnam FC

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