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Preview: Incheon United vs Jeju United

The K League is finally back and Incheon United start the season with a tricky opener against Jeju United. Both sides will be looking to start the season with a win, and show improvements following mixed fortunes last season.

Last Time Out

Incheon United 3-1 Jeonnam Dragons

Incheon United finished the 2018 season on a high beating already relegated Jeonnam Dragons 3-1 in front of a bumper crowd. Incheon took the lead half way into the first half via a fine Nam Jae-Jun strike. That lead was doubled shortly after thanks to a Stefan Mugoša penalty. Jeonnam got themselves back into the game late in the half through a Heo Yong-Joon (who signed for Incheon during pre-season) finish. Moon Seon-Min sealed the win for Incheon during the second half, his final goal for Incheon as he's now joined Jeonbuk Hyundai.

Highlights: here

Suwon Bluewings 0-2 Jeju United

Jeju United finished their 2018 season with a solid two goal victory over Suwon Bluewings. The game, on the whole, featured two tired sides just looking to finish their seasons. Tiago Marques gave Jeju United the lead after twenty-seven minutes and shortly after that Alex Jovanović doubled the lead for Jeju. The game slowed down at this point and despite a few half chances there wasn't much to mention for the remaining hour of gameplay.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Incheon United and Jeju United played each other three times during the 2018 season, with Jeju winning twice, and the third and final game ending in a goalless draw.

Incheon last beat Jeju at home back in July 2016, coming out 2-1 winners. Kim Dae-Joong scored the late winner deep into injury time, in front of a little under three thousand fans. Jeju beat Incheon away just last season winning 2-1 on May 5th.

Over the years Incheon and Jeju have played each other 38 times with the victories slightly edged by Jeju thirteen to ten, with the other fifteen games ending in draws.

Team News 

Incheon United should have a full squad to choose from for this opening game of the K League Season. Nguyễn Công Phượng may be ready for a debut, but that will probably come from the bench as he only joined pre-season training a little over a week ago.

Jeju United, just like Incheon, should have a full squad to pick from on Saturday afternoon.

Adversary


Jeju United come into the new season with renewed confidence following a strong off-season which saw them add a host of new names to the roster. The opener against Incheon will be a tough test, and will see newly acquired Costa Rican international Elias Aguilar face the team he played for last season, where he paired well with the likes of Moon Seon-min and Stefan Mugosa. 2018 was an excellent season for Aguilar and one which saw him finish with three goals and ten assists, the latter good for second best in the league.
At their recent media day manager Cho Sung-hwan, as well as newly loaned Yun Il-lok, and hometown product Lee Dong-woo gave their thoughts on the upcoming season.
Cho stressed the importance of erasing the disappointment of last season, and putting in more time and effort for his psychological, technical, and physical stamina so that the mistakes of 2018 would not be repeated. He wants to have a good season for the fans of the club and stated his goal of meeting their expectations.
Kim Dong-woo is very happy to join his hometown club, and has said that it is his goal to win the K League with Jeju this season, and gain automatic entry into the ACL for next season. Whilst Yun Il-lok is also looking forward to the challenge of playing with a new team.
I want to meet the expectations of the manager and produce the kind of football that he is looking for,” Yun said. “The J League was an unfamiliar environment for me, and I want to show that I have grown as a player,”. Yun also added that he too has the goal of winning a title while helping the team as much as possible in the process.
Expectations will be much higher this season, and the players as well as the manager are expecting a lot from the new campaign. Jeju have had some degree of success when opening a new season against Incheon, having won their past three season openers against them, the last one coming in 2017 with Magno Cruz strike being enough to give the islanders all three points.
A year earlier, they won even more convincingly by a margin of 3-1 as Lee Kwang-seon, Jung Woon, and Kwon Han-jin all found the net with the latter two goals coming four minutes apart in the second half. Jeju also had a 3-1 opening day win over Incheon back in 2012. Tradition seems to be on their side for this particular week one fixture, so it would not be entirely a surprise to see them come away with all three points

Who To Watch

For Incheon United, Stefan Mugoša scored nineteen goals during his debut K League season and was rewarded for his efforts with a new two year contract. The Montenegrin international will be the main target for Incheon against Jeju on Saturday.

Moving into the midfield and captain Nam Jae-jun will be hoping to start the new season where he left off last year creating openings and scoring the odd goal. He will be a factor on the counter for Incheon. Also watch out for new signings Nguyễn Công Phượng, Jiloan Hamad and Yang-juna.

Finally, 'keeper Jung-san finished last season as the main number one at the back and his experienced hands will be important in this game.

For Jeju United, former Incheon United man Elias Aguilar will cause problems for the Incheon defence, as the midfielder is well-known for his goal creation. Also, former FC Seoul forward Yun Il-Lok won't receive a warm welcoming and could be another dangerous opponent.

Prediction

Both Incheon and Jeju will be looking to start their seasons positively with a win. Both have made solid signings during the off-season and could both be in the mid-table battle this year. Jeju can sometimes struggle away from home and the Sungui Arena isn't an easy place to play.

Incheon took a long time to get going last season and that has been an issue in previous campaigns as well. That sadly usually results in a relegation battle come the end of the season.

Overall, it will be a close game and a tough one to predict as it's of course the opening game of the season. However my heart says that Incheon will have enough to narrowly claim the whole three points.

Predicted Score: Incheon United 1-0 Jeju United

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