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Preview: Gwangju FC vs Asan Mugunghwa

Preview: Gwangju FC vs Asan Mugunghwa K League 2
Gwangju FC and Asan Mugunghwa come together in Jeollanam-do this Sunday with both sides enjoying comfortable away wins on opening day. While Asan no doubt have another K League 2 title in their sights, Gwangju will be keen to show they can compete again without talisman Na Sang-ho. With K-Pop band EXID in town, there could me many ups and downs in what's set to be a highly competitive clash.


Last Time Out

Seoul E-Land 0-2 Gwangju

Stunning a 4,000-strong home crowd with two early goals from Felipe and captain Yeo-reum, the Yellows put in a professional performance, quietened the home crowd and conserved energy for upcoming games against last season's top two. Park Jin-seop's side will be seeking home comforts with six of their next seven fixtures on their own turf.

The Gwangju boss will no doubt have been pleased with debutants Park Jung-soo and keeper Lee Jin-hyung, who both settled into the side seamlessly. With Lee Eu-ddeum taking over set piece duty from the departed Na Sang-ho, Kim Jung-hwan and Lee Hee-gyeon looked lively on the flanks supporting main man Felipe. The Brazilian's goal befitted a striker ready to take advantage of the host's frailties. Korean under-23 manager Kim Hak-bum must have been suitably impressed by Kim Jung-hwan and Om Wan-sang in particular, calling them up to his latest squad this week.

Highlights: here

Jeonnam Dragons 0-3 Asan Mugunghwa

Winning six consecutive league games at the back end of last season, Asan Mugunghwa conceded just once in the process and look on course for another stellar year near the summit of the second division. They passed all tests in an indicator of how far both they and Jeonnam could go, sweeping away their opponents by three clear goals.

Last season's champions made their first of two consecutive trips south and carried on in the same fashion as 2018. 20-year-old Oh Se-hun topped off a fine display on his Asan debut, having only featured for 66 minutes for Ulsan last season. The match will have been seen as a firm signal to the rest of the division that Park Dong-hyuk's men intend to dominate the league once more.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Following a 3-0 defeat of Asan in the 2017 FA Cup, Gwangju found life more difficult against the Police set-up on their return to the second division last season. After defeating them 2-1 at the Yisunsin Stadium in their first encounter thanks to quick-fire Na Sang-ho and Jung Young-chong goals, two score draws down south were followed by a 1-0 defeat back in Asan amid Gwangju's dramatic fall from automatic promotion contention.

That narrow Asan victory thanks to Park Je-sik's strike represented a first win over Gwangju since November 2014, when manager Cho Dong-hyun masterminded a spectacular comeback from two goals down to win 3-2 in the final minute through Seo Dong-hyeon.

Team News

Gwangju's Kim Jung-hwan left the field early at Jamsil and was replaced by fellow youth national teamer Eom Won-sang. With what appeared to be just a precautionary change due to a minor strain, the youngster may be in contention for another start. Gwangju also welcomed new signing Kim Jung-hyung off the bench for his debut on Sunday, with the 22-year-old defender only signing from Suwon Bluewings two days earlier.

Three players made their professional debuts for Asan in the opening match against Jeonnam in the shape of Kim Reo, Park Min-seo and Oh Se-hun. The latter two each scored their first professional goals, while Oh also assisted Park's tally, playing him in behind the defence to put Asan up by two with just over twenty minutes left. Oh was the standout, however, with a goal and an assist and will join part of the Korean youth squad heading to the World Cup in Poland in May. With such a massive opportunity to catapult his career, the expectation is that he will get a lot of playing time under Park Dong-hyuk in the first two months of the season.

Preview: Gwangju FC vs Asan Mugunghwa K League 2 Oh Se-hun
Oh Se-hun (L) in action against Jeonnam Dragons last weekend.


The Adversary

Asan got their 2019 campaign off to a flying start with a 3-0 victory in Gwangyang against Jeonnam Dragons, who played their first ever match in K League 2. Goals from Ko Mu-yeol in the first half followed by Park Min-seo and Oh Se-hun in the second were more than enough for the defending champions to come away with all three points from the encounter.

Park Dong-hyuk opted for a bit of a younger line-up, and it paid off, as the new chargers put together a strong performance to get their title defence in motion right from the off. Ko Mu-yeol headed home from Ju Se-jong's corner in the eighteenth minute to open Asan's account in the new year, but it was Jeonnam who enjoyed most of the possession in the first half. Asan were able to hold on defensively and went to the half a goal up. The dragons kept pressing for an equaliser when things got back underway but Asan doubled their advantage on 69 minutes against the run of play as Oh Se-hun laid a ball forward for Park Min-seo, which he coolly slotted past Lee Ho-seung.

Oh would add a third for the champions in the 82nd minute as he took control of a ball just outside the area and opted to fire at goal, effectively sealing the result for the visiting side. Despite the lopsided score line, there is still a lot of work to be done. There is, however, a lot to be positive about, and, the predictions of some managers at the league's recent media day that Asan would challenge for top honours once again do not seem to be far off, at least for the time being. A trip away to Gwangju will be a good test for them ahead of back to back home dates against Bucheon and Seoul E-Land to close out the first month of the season. Rotation may be a factor this season as Asan look for more consistency in possession to even out their overall game.
(Banko Belan)

Who To Watch

Not many teams at this level possess a striker of Felipe's quality and he could be the standout striker for 2019, perhaps earning himself yet another mid-season transfer should he impress further. With a goal ratio of one in two last season, the Brazilian has already found the net and claimed one assist. An archetypal target man, he also dropped deep to make plenty of clever runs and allow Gwangju's two number 10's to exploit space left in the channels. He would surely not be a bad bet for top scorer come the end of the season.

Preview: Gwangju FC vs Asan Mugunghwa K League 2 Felipe
Felipe celebrates after scoring the opening goal at Jamsil in Gwangju's 2-0 victory.


Prediction

After a workmanlike performance on a poor surface in Seoul last weekend, Gwangju will want to show they have the technical ability to play their own brand of football against a more-fancied side in Asan. The visitors will be hard to break down having kept five clean sheets in their last six but Park Jin-seop will have been encouraged by his wingers performance such as Lee Hee-gyun, who terrorised E-Land's right-hand side last week. Heading into winnable consecutive home league games, Asan could take top spot early and with this in mind both teams may be happy to settle for a point to remain unbeaten.

Gwangju 1-1 Asan Mugunghwa

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