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Preview: Seoul E-Land vs Gwangju FC

K League 2 2019 Preview: Seoul E-Land vs Gwangju FC

It has been an off-season of uncertainty for K League 2 side Seoul E-Land. The winter has brought mixed fortunes for the club, who will now be looking for redemption and to offer a new lease of life for the fans. Finishing in last place in 2018, the club has been abounded by problems. First losing many of their core players, and also uncertainty about their home field location, it is testing times for a club who still believe they can succeed in Korean football. All the off-field issues now need to be put on hold, as the opening round begins as Gwangju FC come up to the capital to face the Leopards. Can Seoul start the season with a victory?
(image via K League)

Last Time Out

The start of the 2019 season brings real promise for Seoul E-Land. They have signed some high profile and successful players with Robson Carlos Durante from Gwangju and Wesley Alex from FC Anyang amongst the most known.

Yet, with 19 losses last year, can E-Land get any worse? The new gaffer Kim Hyun-soo is looking for high tempo, fast and quick football from the side and a Brazilian duo might be the right way about it.

Making Ahn Ji-ho the new captain also brings in a promise for the team, being guided now by an experienced, outfield player. A change in captaincy may bring in new insight from the Korean defender.

Off the pitch, it has been announced that Seoul E-Land will play their first opening two games in the Seoul Olympic Stadium, as with previous seasons. However, the next six home fixtures will be played down in Cheonan, 94km away from their initial home.

Seoul E-Land will play six games this season, 94km away from Jamsil in Cheonan Stadium. The stadium hostest various U-20 FIFA World Cup games back in 2017. (Photo Credit: www.fifa.com)

Seoul has countered this, however, with heavily reducing their season ticket prices for the year, a standard season card now costs 50,000 Won compared to 100,000 Won last time around.

Previous Meetings

2018 saw two draws between the sides and two wins for Gwangju, both home and away. Gwangju had Seoul’s number last year with the last encounter coming on the last day of September, as they ran out 4-1 winners.

Notable for a Na Sang-ho brace, and a goal from Duarte for Gwangju, a player now wearing the leopard printed shirt. The side ran riot in Jamsil, tearing the E-Land side apart. Seoul had already accepted their fate in the league by this point though and had began to play with no passion or pride. Gwangju smelt fear and ended up with an emphatic victory against the home side.

Team News

Seoul E-Land have been busy in the transfer window. Masuda, who has three years experience with Ulsan Hyundai comes into the squad and will be likely to start for the side. As mentioned before, it will be surprising if we don’t see the Brazilian duo of Alex and Duarte upfront as the season kicks off on Sunday. Ahn Ji-ho will lead the back line and also the team, with Kim Young-kwang a certainty behind the sticks.

The Adversary

Park Jin-seop's Gwangju will hope to avoid any play-off hangover following their fifth-place finish and subsequent defeat to Daejeon Citizen last season. In order to replicate September's comfortable victory at the Jamsil, boss Park will have to hope that his new recruits have settled in quickly to life in Jeollanam-do. All three goal scorers from that successful trip to Seoul departed over the winter, with a new spine to that team hopefully bringing the stability and consistency so obviously lacking last term.

Expected to make his Yellow's debut, Rustam Ashurmatov should feature in front of fellow newcomer Lee Jin-hyung who will bring experience to the side. With Park Jeong-soo and Yeo Reum looking to make a steady partnership in centre-midfield, there could be potential for Gwangju to build a more solid base than last term. Keeping just one clean sheet in their last 12 K-League games, a shutout against the Leopards could show a statement of intent to a division where they are seen by few as promotion favourites.

With two home league games on the horizon following Sunday's clash before an intriguing double-header against rivals Jeonnam Dragons, there would be no better time to push on with the board's belief that promotion is this season's primary aim. Fans in the stands will be wary of the threat possessed by short-lived Gwangju star Duarte and it will interesting to see who Park Jin-seop pits against him. Lee Si-young has arrived on loan from Seongnam, but the 41-year-old boss may opt for a more experienced option.

By Pete Hampshire

Who To Watch

It's time for a new star to emerge from the Gwangju ranks following the departure of Na Sang-ho. Arriving mid-season in 2018, Felipe looks set to take that talisman mantle. Standing 193cm tall, the powerful Brazilian striker bagged seven goals in 15 appearances for the Yellows and will be one of the first names on the team sheet this term.
Felipe could be the key man for Gwangju FC, as they take on Seoul E-Land in the opening round of the K League 2 (Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/gwangjufc)

Constantly dropping deep into midfield, Felipe leaves gaps in behind for those more technically advanced to exploit. After developing such a good understanding with Na Sang-ho and Duarte, it will be interesting to see how he fares without that talented pair for company.

By Pete Hampshire

Prediction

It will be an interesting opener, to say the least, this Sunday. Seoul have done remarkably in the transfer window, and Gwangju are now without their main man Na Sang-ho and have failed to find an adequate replacement.

Seoul will have to try to shake this grey cloud hanging over their head and start the new year afresh. I believe that, with everything going on with the club over the last few months, the one thing they have been getting right is the on-pitch situation. Seoul have looked promising in the pre-season camp, and a new lease of life has been injected into the team. I think they may steal this one .

Predicted Score: Seoul E-Land 1-0 Gwangju FC



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