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FA Cup Preview: Bucheon FC 1995 vs Seoul E-Land FC

Korean FA Cup Preview: Bucheon 1995 vs Seoul E-Land

The final week of March sees the third round of FA Cup matches and K League 2 sides entering the draw. In this all K League 2 clash between Bucheon FC 1995 and Seoul E-Land, the hosts will be hoping to channel the spirit of 2016 where they reached the cup semi-finals. Visiting side Seoul E-Land, however, are looking to make it to the fourth round for the first time in three seasons.

Last Time Out

After beginning the season with two home 1-0 victories Bucheon finally succumbed to a defeat in the previous round of league matches, losing away to Asan Mugunghwa 3-2. It was a hard-fought match that saw the police team Asan leapfrog Bucheon in the table on goal difference. Asan's Ko Moo-yeol was the games outstanding player, scoring a hat-trick that proved to be decisive. Two of the goals were penalties, scored in the 14th and 63rd minutes, sandwiching a close-range goal from open play that he scored in the 37th minute. While Bucheon will undoubtedly be disappointed that the two penalties were avoidable, they can take pride in the fact that they did not give up on the match, twice halving the deficit to only one goal. When down 2-0, Bucheon midfielder Park Yo-han was able to pull it back to 2-1 just before half-time and when losing 3-1, fellow midfielder Ahn Tae-hyun brought the score to 3-2 in the 92nd minute. These goals may have proven to just be consolations, but even in defeat Bucheon have learnt that they have a team that does not quit easily and refuses to be deflated when they make mistakes, just what is needed for a successful cup run.

Seoul E-Land have been one of the more underwhelming teams of the season so far, sitting in 9th place after picking up two points and scoring one goal in their first three league matches of 2019. The Jamsil side can be said to be improving slightly, however, as their only defeat of the season was in the opening game, losing 0-2 at home at current K league 2 leaders Gwangju. This was followed by a 1-1 home draw against the league's bottom side Ansan Greeners, a game that they almost won thanks to a goal by Brazilian striker Alex, before conceding a 96th-minute equaliser from Choi Ho-joo. Their previous match saw Seoul E-Land register their first clean-sheet of the season in a 0-0 away draw to 2nd placed side Daejeon Citizen. In a game with a lot of chances for Daejeon, Seoul E-Land can take pride in the fact that they are able to defend themselves well and earn points on the road against bigger sides. They will need to produce a similar performance if they are to progress in the cup this season, considering Bucheon's excellent home form so far in 2019.

Previous Meetings

This will be the first time that Bucheon and Seoul E-Land meet in the FA Cup, with all of their previous official meetings taking place in the second tier. Not only has Bucheon had the better performances in the cup - reaching the semis in 2016, while Seoul E-Land have never won more than two cup matches in one year - Bucheon have also been the consistently better league performers. Seoul E-Land's debut season in 2015 was the only time that they have finished above Bucheon in the league, with the Gyeonggi side finishing at least two places above Seoul E-Land in every season since. When Bucheon finished 8th last season, Seoul E-Land were one of the few teams to do worse, ending the season in last place.

This may make it seem that Bucheon are the stronger side, but the reality is a little bit different when they meet on the pitch. Last season the teams meant four times and came away with two wins each. Interestingly, in all four matches the away side always emerged victorious. Bucheon added to their fantastic start to last season with a 2-4 win in Jamsil, but Seoul E-Land would then take the next six points with 0-3 and 0-2 wins in Bucheon, before Bucheon would then level things up by winning the final match 0-1 away. This history between the two sides, and Seoul E-Land's recent away draw against 2nd place Daejeon Citizen, could perhaps indicate that the fortune lies with the visitors. However, Bucheon currently have a 100% home record so far this season, and have yet to concede a goal on their turf. If Seoul E-Land are to progress to the 4th round, they will need more then luck to do so and their recent performances have not exactly shown that they are capable of doing that.

Team News

Bucheon will have a full strength team at their disposal, should they choose to use it. If they were given a slightly kinder draw against a lower level team, Bucheon would be afforded the luxury of potentially resting their key players. However, as they are up against a fellow K League 2 they are likely to put most of their best players out. The manager does, though, have some selection dilemmas. 

After conceding three goals against Asan, will Bucheon mix up a back-line that has previously only kept clean-sheets so far this season? Considering two of the Asan goals were penalties, it is possible they will remain unchanged in defence, but will have received a talking to about keeping their discipline in the penalty area. 

Another thing for the manager to consider is the attackers. While Bucheon have won two games and scored four goals so far this season, none of the goals have come from the boys up front, with one goal from a defender and three from midfielders. While the forwards have of course been involved in the goals, the lack of clinical finishing is a cause for concern. As it is a cup game, will the manager stick with the usual suspects up front or will he experiment? Several strikers in the team have only played once or not at all so far this season, so this could be a good opportunity for them to make their mark and cement their place in the team.

The Adversary

Seoul E-Land will look to get their first win of the year under their belts as they make the short trip across town to Bucheon in the FA Cup, a team they have beaten twice on the road last year. With this in mind, some may favour the Leopards for the draw. However, if their fortunes of previous years in the cup continue, they will be easy pickings for the Bucheon side.

Seoul have only managed to get past the 3rd round twice in their history, and on both occasions, were dumped out in the next draw. The last two games were especially painful, after losing to K3 side Pocheon in 2017, and missing out on penalties to Korea university last year. E-Land normally draft a weaker side in the FA Cup, but maybe a full strength squad will be good for morale, and a good cup run could turn a few heads in the division. 

In talking tactics, Seoul have only managed to score one goal so far in the season, yet the signing of Douglas Coutinho may add some more firepower, and goals to the side. Seoul have been trying to improve their defence in recent games, and it really showed in the Daejeon game, frustrating the home side, after countless shots from them throughout the 90.

Ahn Ji-ho was prolific at keeping Daejeon at bay in round 3 of the K League 2, can Seoul E-Land get yet another clean sheet in the FA Cup?
Ahn Ji-ho was prolific at keeping Daejeon at bay in round 3 of the K League 2, can Seoul E-Land get yet another clean sheet in the FA Cup?
If Seoul can continue to defend strategically and have some real flair up top, who knows what might come out of this fixture against Bucheon 1995. I believe it will be all down to what side he puts out on Wednesday.

By Seoul E-Land correspondent Michael Redmond

Who To Watch

Its always hard to predict who will actually play in the FA Cup, as players do get rested in these midweek ties. Yet, Seoul have still yet to unveil their new signing Douglas Coutinho. A player coming from the second division of the Brazilian league, the ex-Fortaleza player did not get much game time in his tenure there. However, with the Korean 2nd division not quite to the same standard, Douglas could learn more of his craft, and become a prolific player in the side. He is young and has quick legs to his game, which will be ideal if brought on in the last 20 of any match, especially when the summer months start to roll in. 

Prediction

This has all the makings of a closely fought cup-tie, with both clubs thinking they can win. However, while Seoul E-Land will have the confidence knowing that away sides tend to have the upper hand in this fixture, Bucheon should prove too strong. Seoul E-Land, although they can be awkward customers, have not proven themselves to be much of a threat. At home, Bucheon have shown themselves to be a solid unit, and their 100% home record should continue for the time being.

Predicted Score: Bucheon FC 1995 1-0 Seoul E-Land

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