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Preview: Busan IPark vs Daejeon Citizen

Preview: Busan IPark vs Daejeon Citizen K League 2 Round 5 Romulo

The two sides which contested last season’s K League 2 playoff final meet this Sunday afternoon at the Gudeok Stadium, both attempting to establish solid foundations for the season after falling short at the end of 2018. After both sides dropped points late at home in Round 4, will Busan IPark get their first home win of the season at the fourth attempt, or can Daejeon Citizen maintain their 100% away record? Todd Wilde previews the match.

Last Time Out

Busan IPark hosted Bucheon 1995 in the early kick-off last Saturday and appeared to still be half asleep as Bucheon scored off the first possession. Ahn Tae-hyun combined cleverly at pace with Kim Ryun-do down the right wing before Ahn powered a great finish into the top right corner from ten yards out.

The game came to life after the break in extraordinary circumstances. Straight after the restart, the lively Busan youth product Lee Dong-jun was recklessly taken out by Bucheon defender Nilson as they battled to win a loose ball. After a five-minute delay where the furious Bucheon coach Song Sun-ho was sent off for dissent (despite VAR confirming the penalty), Rômulo calmly slotted into the bottom right corner. Bucheon were back ahead almost immediately, as unconvincing Busan goalkeeper Kim Hyung-geun misjudged a speculative 35-yard drive from Song Hong-min, which flew between his hands. Minutes later, Park Yo-han handled the ball under no pressure in his own penalty box, and Rômulo scored from the spot again to tie up the game 2-2.

Fans were treated to end-to-end attacking football as both sides pushed for a winner. To the bemusement of Bucheon’s players and amusement of those in attendance, Busan were awarded a third penalty through VAR, as Bucheon defender Nilson was judged to have fouled substitute Kwon Yong-hyun. Brazilian talisman Rômulo converted to become the first player to score a hat trick of penalties in one K League game. Yet it was Nilson that had the last laugh, taking advantage of poor defending in injury time to chest down then volley from 35 yards to salvage a point for Bucheon.

Highlights here.

Daejeon Citizen fell to a 2-0 home defeat against Suwon FC. Goals from Japan-born North Korean international forward An Byong Jun and Nigerian striker Chisom Egbuchulam late into the second half. The result was the Purples' first defeat of the season but the second in succession which Ko Jong-soo's men failed to find the back of the net.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Busan and Daejeon were involved in some entertaining encounters in the 2018 K League 2 season, including a memorable 3-3 draw last July where Shin Young-jun scored a very late equaliser to save IPark with the final kick of the game. In their other regular-season meetings, Daejeon won once whilst Busan won twice before Busan convincingly beat a Citizen side without their injured talisman Hwang In-beom 3-0 in last season’s Playoff Final.

Team News

Busan suffered a setback when their poster boy, Korean international Kim Moon-hwan, went off injured early against Gwangju. He is a doubt for Sunday’s game and is likely to be replaced by last season’s first choice RB Lee Jong-min. Busan will, however, be boosted by the return of veteran left back Kim Chi-woo, who played the final 18 minutes against Bucheon and is likely to start as Busan come under pressure to shore up their defence. A big part of the reason Busan has conceded a league-high nine goals is their inability to settle on a stable central defensive partnership, having played four different pairings in their four league games of 2019. Coach Cho Deouk-je will have to decide whether to persevere with rookie Hwang Joon-ho and Australian international Alexsander Šušnjar, or whether to recall established option Kim Myung-joon. GK Kim Hyung-geun is likely to be replaced by last season’s first choice Koo Sang-min after a string of unconvincing performances between the sticks, capped by a mistake-laden performance against Bucheon.

At the other end of the pitch, Busan have had no trouble creating scoring opportunities this season, but coach Cho Deok-je will have been given a dilemma by the energetic and technical performance of substitute Kwon Yong-hyun, who regularly found space and proved a headache to defend against particularly in the final third. Debutant Soma Novothny was quiet at times playing as a target man striker, and Choi Seung-in could be preferred up front.

The Adversary

Daejeon Citizen head into Sunday's clash with Busan IPark keen to get back to winning ways after a draw to Seoul E-Land and defeat to Suwon FC last time out. The Purples have failed to find the back of the net in those to matches, leaving manager Ko Jong-soo with a couple of decisions to make personnel wise. Aurelian Chițu made his comeback from injury during the 2-0 home reverse to Suwon FC, coming on as a half-time substitute and will be looked upon to arrest Citizen's mini slump. Shohruh Gadoev, arguably Daejeon's best crosser of the ball, will be hoping his cameo appearances from the bench have done enough to earn a starting berth.

Tactically, Daejeon will be expected to line up in a 4-1-2-3 formation with Chițu as the centre forward, flanked by Park In-hyeok and either Kim Seung-seop or Shohruh Gadeov. The Purples like to win the ball back quickly in and around the halfway line before immediately trying to find space in the channels. Ahn Sang-hyeon will be key for the Purples, the defensive midfielder adds a great deal of composure and experience in front of the back four. The former Seongnam man, who is in his second stint with Daejeon, acts as a defensive screen allowing the likes of Shin Hak-young and Yun Yong-ho to bomb forward. Ahn was injured the last time Daejeon made the trip to the south coast for the 3-0 Promotion Playoff Final defeat last winter.
-Paul Neat

Who To Watch

Young player of the year playing as a winger in 2018, Busan’s youth academy graduate Kim Jin-gyu has been predicted to have a significant influence on Busan’s promotion chances. He has had a slow start to the season as he adapts to a new central role as an advanced midfielder. Possessing pace, brilliant spatial awareness and an eye for a killer pass, expect Kim to be heavily involved in the building of attacks in the final third as Busan look to unlock a stubborn and well organised Daejeon Citizen side.

Prediction

IPark have conceded seven goals in their first two home games of 2019, whilst Daejeon have a perfect record away from home, with two wins and five goals coming on the road. Busan’s chances of getting a result in this game may well depend on the team selection of Cho Deok-je. It is imperative they settle on a first choice central defensive partnership that can grow an understanding together, especially given how Busan always look capable of scoring at the other end of the pitch. Both teams need the three points to kick start their promotion campaign, but Citizen look to be in a more stable position coming into this game. Expect goals at the Gudeok Stadium.

Predicted Score: Busan IPark 2-3 Daejeon Citizen

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