[Recent News][6]

K League 1
K League 2
FC Seoul
Korean National Football Team
Seoul E-Land
FA Cup
K-League Classic
Pohang Steelers
K League Challenge
Suwon Bluewings
Seongnam FC
Bucheon 1995
Suwon FC
Daejeon Citizen
Football Manager
From The Stands
K League Classic
Busan IPark
World Cup
Korean national team
Elimination Game
Asian Cup
KNT Women
Chungbuk Cheongju
K League All Star Game
Russia 2018
East Asia Cup
Qatar 2022
Power Rankings
Away Days
Club World Cup
Busan Transport
Inter Korea
North Korea
Ulsan Citizen
Yangpyeong FC
Asian Games
Chiangrai United
Cho Hyun-woo
Final A
Final B
Final Round
Goyang Citizen
Mokpo City
National League
Russia 2020
Winners Circle

Preview: Johor Darul Ta’zim vs Gyeongnam FC

Two high octane attacks square off for the first ever AFC Champions League match played on Malaysian soil when Gyeongnam FC make the trip West to face Johor Darul Ta’zim. Ryan Walters spoke with Fox Sports and Malaysian Football League analyst and commentator Keeshaanan Sundaresan about what to expect Tuesday night. 

Keeshaanan Asks, Ryan Answers

Keeshaanan Sundaresan: Gyeongnam had a stunning 2018 finishing 2nd in K League 1 despite only earning promotion in 2017. How did they pull it off? What allowed them to remain consistent throughout the season?

Ryan Walters: Gyeongnam found success in their return to K1 much in the same way they dominated K2 in 2017: all out attacking football. Manager Kim Jongboo has refused to play any other way and it has been a delightful change of pace from the often overly-defensive style of play in K League. Having the 2017 K2 and 2018 K1 MVP Marcão obviously helped a lot, but even after his departure Gyeongnam are playing their own brand of football and it's been entertaining for fans of the league.

KS: This is also Gyeongnam's Asian Champions League debut. They started their campaign off with a 2-2 draw against Shandong Luneng. What is the expectation for them in the ACL?

RW: Given the fact it's their first time in the competition and they're in the same group as the defending ACL champions, Kashima, I think just being competitive in the group would meet fan expectations this season. The club has definitely prioritized international football with the additions of Jordon Mutch and Luc Castaignos in the off season, but there is still a sense of delight among the fanbase simply to be here. Those of us covering the league expect them to fight for second in the group and move on to the knockout rounds, but if they fall short while putting up a good fight, I don't think anyone would be too surprised or upset.

KS: Based on what you have seen of them this year, is there a shift in playing style? Or are they retaining the approach that made them successful last season? Who is the one guy JDT should be concerned about?

RW: The Reds are still very much an attacking team, but they've shifted their style slightly from last season. With Marcão in the middle, they played a lot of overlapping runs to try and overload the wings and pull defenders out wide to then ping in crosses to the big man. Without him around this season, they have played a more direct approach getting the ball closer to the box and playing shorter crosses that often stay on the ground.

As for players to watch, Kim Seungjun is off to a good start and the Brazilian Negueba has the ability to make defenders look utterly foolish with the ball at his feet, but Takahiro Kunimoto is the man to watch for me. At just 21 years of age, he has vision and accuracy well beyond his years and can unlock a defense with a single pass. He also has a tremendous nose for goal and has been benefiting from Gyeongnam's more direct approach in the final third where he often finds himself on the end of those shorter crosses. Kunimoto had a really good 2018, but I think he could be in for a spectacular 2019 if he keeps this up.

KS: Prediction?

RW: Playing in front of what I would expect to be 30,000 in a sellout crowd at Tan Sri Dato' Haji Hassan Yunos Stadium is going to be quite the occasion for a Gyeongnam side used to playing in front of much smaller crowds at home. That might rattle them, but it might also spur them on to prove they belong in this competition. I'd expect this one to be pretty wide open and should be fun for neutral fans to tune in to with so much attacking talent. I think JDT will be well up for it and proved their mettle against Kashima last round, but Gyeongnam will hold strong. 2-2.

Ryan Asks, Keeshaanan Answers

Ryan Walters: It was an extremely strong debut for Johor Darul Ta’zim in ACL with a narrow 2-1 loss at defending champions Kashima Antlers. What were the main takeaways from that match JDT can use moving forward in the tournament?

Keeshaanan Sundaresan: It was a great start for JDT! Not many were giving them a chance against the reigning champions and they were on the backfoot for much of the first half. But they were far more adventurous after the break and even got a goal at the end of the night. Could have even been 2-2 had Akhyar's curled shot squeezed in towards the end. But the confidence they showed, getting a goal and only losing 2-1 away from home against the reigning champions - those are valuable takeaways from their ACL debut match.

RW: For obvious reasons, JDT sat back and played on the counter against Kashima in Japan. Do you expect them to play the same way against Gyeongnam at home? If not, how do you think manager Benjamin Mora will approach the game?

KS: They have this great record at home, the pitch suits the style of football they usually play, which is attacking minded. But I expect them to be pragmatic against Gyeongnam. Cabrera, Safawi and Diogo will be given the license to attack, but the rest might operate with a bit more pragmatism involved. Maybe not as much as they showed against Kashima away from home, but JDT will not underestimate Gyeongnam. The mood is positive though and fans are even talking about a win. Knowing the Crown Prince of Johor, he'll probably want his boys to get one home win at the very least. This will be their first shot at it.

RW: Rising star Safawi Rasid is off to a good start in the domestic campaign with two goals in five appearances, and only seems to score worldies. After a strong 2018 for the Malaysian National Team in the AFC U23 Championship and AFF Cup, how integral has he become to JDT’s plans in ACL? How should Gyeongnam defenders prepare for him?

KS: He's just sensational. Fearless is the right word to describe him. He's developed so rapidly over the last few years and  is now very consistent on the pitch. Across all competitions, he outscored JDT's foreign players last season and is already looking influential this year. He will start on Tuesday, most likely on the right. And he loves cutting into the inside. He's also an intelligent footballer, which makes him tricky without the ball. Always somehow finds space down the flanks and then uses burst of pace to outsmart fullbacks. Diogo is the predator in this team, but Safawi and Cabrera are the two engines in attack. They are the ones Gyeongnam have to keep a close eye on.

RW: How do you see this one playing out?

KS: There's a real feel good factor in Johor at the moment and they are usually a bit more difficult to break down at home. I foresee JDT getting their first ACL point here. 1-1 for me.

Group E Preview

Associate Editor Scott Whitelock sat down with our own James Edrupt, Football Radar's J League expert Sam Robson, Malaysian football journalist Keesh Sundaresan, and the host of Wild East Football's podcast Steve Crooks.

Where to Download

iTunes | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Libsyn | TuneIn Radio

You can also catch the show every week on Football Nation Radio at 5:00pm Sydney Time (or 3:00pm for those of you here in Korea).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search