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Preview: Gyeongnam FC vs Suwon Bluewings

Gyeongnam FC secured a 2-1 victory over Pocheon Citizen in the Korean FA Cup 4th round this week. Key players were able to rest and Gyeongnams's squad players were able to get a much needed run out. Now, it's time to focus on the league once again and they will do so with the visit of the Suwon Bluewings. 

Last Time Out

Gyeongnam FC 2-1 Pocheon Citizen
Gyeongnam faced Pocheon Citizen, a powerful team of the K3 Advanced League, at home in the Korean FA Cup 4th round. Contrary to expectations that the difference between professional and semi-professional would seem obvious, it was a game that couldn't slow down until the end. As expected, some of Gyeongnam's key players took a break, but Negueba, Jordon Mutch and Kwak Taehwi all made starts.

From the beginning of the game, the Reds strongly pushed Pocheon  and attacked from the off. Kim Hyogi had many chances, but he failed to score due to poor finishing. However, Kim Hyogi's movement did create some space for Jo Jaecheol to shoot, and he scored for Gyeongnam to take a 1-0 lead. The away team occasionally sought to score on counterattacks but the first half ended as 1-0.

However, the second half saw Pocheon come into the game a little more. Pocheon Citizen did not easily give up opportunities to Gyeongnam and launched their own attacks regularly. But Gyeongnam scored against the run of play in the 63rd minute when Kunimoto found Kwak Taehwi from a corner and the captain scored with a header. The away team did not give up and because of their constant effort Pocheon finally scored a goal. 

Shortly before the end of the match, Pocheon earned a free kick in a good position but Son Junghyun prevented it and the match ends with a victory for the home team.

Highlights: here

Suwon Samsung Bluewings 1-0 Pohang Steelers
Both teams got off to a bad start this season and they hoped to rebound through the FA Cup. The Bluewings used the advantage of playing at home to push Pohang hard from the outset. Pohang's defence allowed Suwon space but Suwon squandered their opportunities and appeared to frequently try mid-range shots in a frustrating performance.

With the start of the second half Pohang tried to counterattack, but goalkeeper No Donggeon once again shone. The continued attack by the away team lacked any decent finishing and the second half went on without any real goal mouth action.

Suwon won a game-sealing penalty in the 80th minute when the ball hit Pohang defender, Jeon Mingwang, and the penalty was finished neatly by Yeom Kihun.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Suwon Bluewings dominate this fixture. The Reds have 8 wins, 10 draws and 13 losses against the Bluewings. The Changwon based team have won only once in the last 10 games. In the case of last season, Gyeongnam suffered when they came up against Suwon, with one win, one draw and two losses against them.

Also, looking at the scoring record, Gyeongnam have scored seven goals against Suwon in the last 10 games, but Suwon have scored 13, almost twice as many.

Team News

Luc Castaignos is still injured and Jordon Mutch, who led the midfield with Kunimoto, cannot play this match since he was sent off in the last league game. After the FA Cup match the manager Kim Jongboo stated that he would do his best to win the match against Suwon Bluewings. Therefore, it is not expected that there will be any major changes in the starting XI, except Jordon Mutch.

Also, four away games will follow after this home game and it is expected that Gyeongnam will try to repay their fans with a victory.

The Adversary

Suwon made it five games unbeaten on Wednesday night with their victory over Pohang Steelers in the FA Cup. The 0-0 draw in the cup means it’s now four games since the Bluewings last conceded a goal and they are quickly becoming one of the meanest defences in the league. Key to that has been the introduction of a settled backline and the likes of Jo Sungjin, Koo Jaryoung, Hongchul and Shin Segye have played every single minute of the Bluewings’ current five game unbeaten run. Choi Seunggeun also recently returned to the starting line-up and the combative midfielder now tops the league for average challenges made per 90 minutes and Choi also makes the top five in the league for average shots blocked per 90 minutes. The game away to Gyeongnam will possibly be the toughest test that the Bluewings have faced since that infamous Jeonbuk game earlier in the season, but it will be a challenge that Lee Limsaeng’s side feel they are equipped for.

After some early season tinkering, Lee Limsaeng has played a settled side for the last few matches with changes between games being few and far between. Suwon will have a six day break after facing Gyeongnam so even with the exertions of previous weeks Lee will probably name a similar starting line-up to the one that faced Pohang.

Elvis Saric played his first full 90 minutes since the beginning of December on Wednesday night and may drop down back to the bench as he continues to gain full match fitness. Jeon Sejin sat out that FA Cup game so he will most likely be recalled and take his place in the centre of the park. Min Sanggi will return from a one match suspension and also could replace Yang Sangmin in the centre of defence, although with the team doing so well at the back Lee may not feel the need to change too much there.

- Scott Whitelock

Who To Watch

Kunimoto's value increased when Jordon Mutch was sent off in the last game. Furthermore, as Negueba is yet to hit form Kunimoto will have to lead the attack from the centre. In the previous match against Pocheon Citizen the Japanese midfielder took a rest while playing as a substitute so he should be in good condition going into this game.

This pass master will need a defensive midfielder to support him and the Reds will need players who can finish the pass from Kunimoto with goals. Besides Kunimoto, there is also a need to watch Kim Seungjun and Bae Kijong. These two forwards are the one who can score in the match.

Prediction

Although Gyeongnam FC's offence is said to be fierce, can the Reds score against the Blueswings' goalkeeper No Donggeon? In the last league match between Suwon Bluewings and Daegu FC the goalkeeper made numerous saves and made a decisive contribution to the team's draw. If Kim Seungjun or Bae Kijong can get a pass from the tip of Kunimoto's foot without missing it, Gyeongnam has a high possibility to win the match.

However, the Bluewings will focus on defence which is a chronic problem for Gyeongnam this season. The Reds should not overlook Taggart and Yeom Kihun's abilities, and should also not ignore Dejan's experience. This may be an unsatisfactory result for both teams’ fans but I carefully expect a 1-1 draw.

Predicted Score: Gyeongnam FC 1-1 Suwon Bluewings

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