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Preview: Jeju United vs Gangwon FC

Preview: Jeju United vs Gangwon FC K League 1 Round 8
Jeju United finally won a match for the first time in 2019, advancing in the FA Cup in midweek after a penalty shootout against Gangneung City FC.  Gangwon FC pulled off a shocker, defeating FC Seoul after having lost to them in the league last weekend.  The islanders will hope to carry over their luck in order to get their first win in K League 1 this year.  Gangwon are only three points in front of Jeju at the moment, and, while both teams are struggling for form, Jeju needs to take advantage of this home stretch to save the spring portion of their campaign. KLU's Branko Belan previews the fixture.

Match: Jeju United vs Gangwon FC
Venue: Jeju Civic Stadium
Kickoff: Sunday April 21st, 2019; 14:00 KST

Last Time Out

Gangneung City FC 1 (2) - 1 (4) Jeju United - FA Cup

Jeju United needed a bit of luck to get past National League side Gangneung City FC in midweek, as 120 minutes could not separate the two sides and the contest would be decided by penalties, where Jeju converted all four of their spot kicks, while goalkeeper Hwang Seong-min came up with a pair of crucial saves to send United into the fifth round of the FA Cup, where they will match up against Sangju Sangmu, who also went through on penalties against Seongnam.

The first half against Gangneung offered very little in terms of an offensive display for Jeju, who came out with a completely rotated lineup.  They did manage to go to the break with the lead, however, as Kim Sung-ju found just enough space to fire at goal from the edge of the box, and the ball finished in the back of the net. 

The hosts would come to life in the second half and found an equalizer on 73 minutes through Kim Jong-min.  They continued to press forward in hopes of finding a second and providing a shock upset, but Jeju was able to keep its nerve as the match headed into extra time.  The half hour would not bring a change in proceedings, and Jeju were clinical enough to get the job done, picking up their first win in 2019, and the hope is that with the regular squad back on the weekend, it will kick start their league season and send things in a positive direction.

Gangwon FC 3-2 FC Seoul - FA Cup

Gangwon FC's cup tie against FC Seoul was a back and forth affair, as they went in front thanks to Lee Hyun Sik after 21 minutes.  Seoul would strike in quick succession ten minutes into the second half, as a pair of goals from Park Chu-young in a space of three minutes threatened to completely turn the match on its head.

Not to be outdone, Uroš Đerić, last season's second leading scorer in the K League with 22 goals, had plans of his own, leveling the match on the hour mark, and then completing a brace of his own in second half injury time to cap the comeback.

Previous Meetings

Gangwon got the better out of this fixture last season, winning twice and drawing once.  A Magno Cruz hat-trick was wasted the first time the sides met last May, as Gangwon won 5-3, highlighted by a pair of goals by Đerić.

The Serb would once again feature when they met in the summer, scoring twice again in a space of ten minutes, after coming off the bench as a substitute in the second half.  

Gangwon would stake out to an early lead in their final meeting in September, thanks to goals from Kim Ji-hyun and Jung Seong-yong, but Lee Kwang-seon would pull one back before the half for Jeju, and then Tiago leveled the match just after the re-start, but neither team was able to come away with all three points.

The overall series has been close, with Jeju winning nine times, Gangwon winning seven times, and three matches ending in a draw.  It could be a long afternoon for Jeju, however, if Đerić gets into the mood early.  Jeju still has not shown that it can score on a consistent basis, and if they have to play from behind, victory will be hard to come by.

Team News

Jeju finally got a win under their belt in 2019 with the cup win in midweek, but it was a less than convincing performance, even though the starters were given the night off.  The positive to come from the match were the appearances of Lee Kyu-hyuk and Lee Dong-ryul, both of whom were recently named to Korea's U-20 World Cup squad for the tournament in Poland beginning next month.

Im Chan-ul and Kim Hyun picked up slight knocks in the midweek cup tie, but the extent of their injuries is unknown.  If ready to go, Im will most likely be an option off the bench as Yun Il-lok will take up a position on the left flank, unless the decision is made to partner him in attack with one of either Magno Cruz or Tiago.  Recently though, Jeju seems to favor a 4-1-4-1 formation, and if that is indeed the case on Sunday afternoon, then Yun will be out wide on the left.  In all likelihood, it will be Kang Yoon-sung, Kwon Han-jin, Aleks Jovanović, and Park Jin-po across the back, with Kim Ho-nam wide on the right, Kwon Soon-hyung in a holding role in midfield, and Lee Chang-min pushing up to support the attack, along with Elias Aguilar.

Park Jin-po did pick up a late yellow card in last weekend's home opening loss to Jeonbuk, but will be available for selection after recently returning from injury.

For Gangwon, Kim Ji-hyun scored last time out against FC Seoul in the league, and is a player that the Jeju back line should keep an eye on, as if they didn't have enough to worry about with Đerić lurking up front.  Lee Hyun-sik picked up a yellow last weekend, but should still be in the conversation for a spot in the starting eleven.  There are no suspensions or injuries of note, so the expectation is that they will field their strongest unit for the test against Jeju.

The Adversary

Gangwon have had a bit of a rough start to the season, but they have won two matches, something their opponents have yet to do in the league this season.  Their defensive record, albeit improved, could come back to haunt them if Jeju find the right gears and the new additions start clicking together.

They have conceded eight times in seven matches, but have only scored four times, the same number of goals as the islanders.  Currently in tenth and sitting on seven points, the match against Jeju could be a chance for them to make a statement, as they haven't really come out of their shell yet this season.

A big reason for that is the departure of Diego Mauricio, who joined Busan IPark in K League 2 in the off-season, and is already having an impact with them.  It has left Uroš Đerić a target for opposing defenders, who have thus far succeeded in marking him out of matches as he is now the primary source of goals for the club.  How goes Đerić, so goes Gangwon, and the results have not been fruitful this season, as he doesn't even find himself in the top ten on the scoring chart after seven rounds.  But, having counted four against Jeju last season, it could be the remedy to get him out of his early season slump.


Patience with Cho Sung-hwan is wearing very thin on the island right now, and not even a narrow win in the cup against a lower division side will do enough to temper discontent.  On paper, Jeju look a strong outfit, but the new pieces have taken some time to gel.  With Elías Aguilar and Yun Il-lok finally starting to turn a corner with better performances in recent matches, there is no time like the present to kick start the team's play forward.

Gangwon have looked largely uninspiring in league play this season, and could be ripe for another defeat if they fail to be the first team on the score sheet on Sunday afternoon.  There is little indication that they will be able to break down Jeju's back four, which has been mostly strong this season, and, if they do go with four in the back which is to be expected, that task will be made even more difficult.

Both teams need a win, but Jeju, and especially Cho, needs it more, not only to get a first league win under the belt, but also for a manager to save his job.

Predicted Score: Jeju United 1-0 Gangwon FC 

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