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Preview: Jeju United vs Sangju Sangmu

Preview: Jeju United vs Sangju Sangmu K League 1 Round 9
Jeju United squandered a very good opportunity to get their first win of the season last time out as they fell to Gangwon FC by a score of 4-2 at home, despite having a man advantage for the majority of the match.  Sangju Sangmu also comes into Saturday's K League 1 encounter off of a heavy loss, as they were dispatched by Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors by a count of 3-0.  Jeju don't have a lot of time to turn their season around, as they already occupy the foot of the table, with relegation looking a real possibility at this point.  Sangju, despite their defeat are currently sixth and will look to put in a better performance against their struggling hosts.  KLU's Branko Belan looks ahead to Saturday's tilt on the island.

Match: Jeju United vs Sangju Sangmu
Venue: Jeju Civic Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday April 27th, 2019; 14:00 KST

Last Time Out

Jeju United 2-4 Gangwon FC

Things looked to get off to a bright start for the islanders, as Gangwon were already down a man after just nine minutes, after Lee Jae-kwon was adjudged to have committed a red card offense after the referee looked at the replay.  Jeju could not translate the advantage into a goal before Gangwon took the lead on 25 minutes through Kang Ji-hoon, after Jung Seong-yong had made a streaking run down the left flank, and another defensive lapse left the former with enough space to nudge the ball out of the reach of Lee Chang-keun.

Magno Cruz would level the match on 37 minutes, pouncing on a rebound from Yun Il-lok's shot which had hit the post, but Gangwon would re-take the lead only two minutes later when Kim Hyun-wook, the former United player, struck a rocket from well outside the box, and found the top corner with a goal that is sure to be entered into the conversation as one of the best of the year.  

Things did not improve in the second half, as Kim Ji-hyun made it 3-1 just before the hour mark.  Magno would get his second only a minute later, but Lee Hyun-sik would round out the scoring on 65 minutes, and Jeju could not find a way to recover.  

Highlights: here

Sangju Sangmu 0-3 Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors

Jeonbuk gradually began to assert themselves in the match following the first ten minutes, and went a goal up through Lim Sun-young, who finished well from just outside the box, after Lee Dong-gook had struck the bar with an effort from in close after Han Kyo-won had made a great run into the box on the right.  The goal would put wind into Jeonbuk's sails, as they continued to maraud forward in search of a second before the break, and, it did indeed come, five minutes before the interval when Lee Dong-gook atoned for his earlier misfortune, heading in an inch perfect cross delivered in from the left by Ricardo Lopes.

It was Lopes himself who would get on the score sheet in the second half, when he added a third for Jeonbuk on the hour mark.  The ball pinged around after a cross in from the right, and the Brazilian got his right boot to the ball, sending it past a helpless Yoon Bo-sang in the Sangju goal.  

A goal called back for offside would be all the home side could muster the rest of the way, and, although Son Jun-ho was sent off in the 78th minute for his second yellow due to a dangerous challenge on Kim Min-woo, there would be no change in the scoreline before the final whistle, and the Jeolla outfit easily took another three points.

Highlights: here

Previous Meetings

Jeju United have had a sizeable advantage in this tie through the years, winning twelve matches, while Sangju have only won four.  Seven matches have ended in draws, and the islanders have scored 43 goals to Sangju's 24.

Last season saw much more parity between the two, as all three matches ended in draws, including the first meeting of the season last May, in which Jeju were reduced to ten men, but the result saw them sitting third going into the World Cup break.

What a difference a year makes, as Jeju are now bottom of the league while the military men are a very respectable sixth and in double figures for points.  Considering that there were only two goals between them last season, Saturday's match does not figure to present much different as both sides are currently looking to rebound from poor performances.

Team News

Following the loss to Gangwon on Sunday afternoon, speculation began to swirl once again with regards to Cho Sung-hwan's job security.  However, the board of directors has said recently that they will continue to stick by Cho despite a lack of results thus far this season.  It is hard to imagine that the team could be struggling so badly, still waiting for a first win in the league two months into the campaign.

Lee Chang-min and Kwon Han-jin both picked up yellow cards in the loss to Gangwon, but both will still be available for selection.  It will be interesting to see what changes are made to the starting eleven, as there are sure to be at least a few.  There is also the possibility of a change in tactics, as the current formation has not brought the hoped results.  Reverting to a back three, however, would not be a desired course as it would leave an already struggling back line thin at the back.  There is a good chance that there will be a bit of rotation in Saturday's starting eleven, with the possibility of Kim Seung-woo and Kim Dong-woo pairing together in central defense as they have with some success at times this season.

For Sangju, Yoon Bit-garam was the only player to go into the book against Jeonbuk, but he will be available for selection.  Kim Min-woo picked up a bit of a knock in the challenge that sent off Son Jun-ho last weekend, but he is a key player for Sangju, and will certainly be in the starting eleven providing there are no adverse effects from the confrontation.

Sangju are also well aware of the implications this match could have, both in the standings and for their upcoming cup tie in a few weeks time, so they will do their best to recover the form which saw them roll off three wins to open the season, and, with a struggling Jeju next up for them, it will be a good chance to do just that.

The Adversary

Sangju Sangmu manager Kim Tae-hwan

After a string of three consecutive wins to open the season, where they beat Gangwon, Pohang, and Incheon, Sangju are winless in their last five.  They did manage to squeeze out a 10-9 penalty shootout win after a scoreless 120 minutes against Seongnam FC in the FA Cup, but little else has gone right over the past month.  They have only scored once during their current slide, while conceding seven.

Based on their form of late, it is difficult to see them scoring on Saturday afternoon, regardless of the fact that they are facing the only team currently without a win in either league this season.  It seems to have been a trend in recent years, where they would get out of the gate with a few good results before things began to go south.  To their credit, they are still in the top half of the table, but would like to turn things around before the season heads into the summer portion of the schedule.  It would be a great benefit to them to secure some positive results in the coming weeks, as they are set to lose a few key players come fall, as the likes of Kim Min-woo and Yoon Bit-garam are set to return to their parent clubs Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Yanbian Funde in China, respectively.

Prediction

There was very little to separate these teams last season, save for their positions in the standings, as each of the matches between them were too close to call.  Both teams are struggling at the moment, but especially Jeju, who have found life in the new season difficult to navigate despite bringing in a wealth of new talent in the off-season to improve the squad.  Chemistry and consistency have been hard to come by, as the team has been plagued by some suspect play and a lot of bad luck.

It is hard to see a winner in this one, but the fact that it will serve as a preview for the slides' FA Cup encounter next month could open things up a little bit.  Both teams should be willing to go for it a bit and hopefully there will be a winner in this one, although the chances of that happening based on recent head to head results and current form make the chances of that happening very slim.

Prediction: Jeju United 0-0 Sangju Sangmu

K League 1 Round 9 Preview: here

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