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Preview: Jeju United vs Gyeongnam FC

K League 1 Preview: Jeju United vs Gyeongnam FC

Jeju's struggles continue this season, as the latest setback was a 3-2 defeat to Sangju Sangmu last weekend, thanks to Yoon Bit-garam's late stunner from a free kick.  Gyeongnam, meanwhile, have also had their fair share of concerns this season, boasting the league's most porous defense.  They also fell to defeat last weekend by a count of 2-0 against Ulsan Hyundai.  The visitors, however, do boast some considerable talent on the offensive side of the ball, and it may just be enough to get them three points away from home.  Jeju also enter the match with a new manager at the helm following the appointment of Choi Yun-kyum after Cho Sung-hwan voluntarily stepped down from his post on Thursday afternoon.  KLU's Branko Belan and Chris Park look ahead to Saturday's match.

Match: Jeju United vs Gyeongnam FC
Venue: Jeju Civic Stadium
Kickoff: Saturday May 4th, 2019; 14:00 KST

Last Time Out

Jeju United 2-3 Sangju Sangmu

The first half between the two finished goalless, with neither really having any concrete chances to threaten at goal, but the match would spring to life in the second half.  Park Yong-ji put the military men into the lead only four minutes after the re-start, latching onto a through ball into the area, chipping over Lee Chang-keun from the top of the six yard box.  Things would go from bad to worse for Jeju, as Lee Dong-hee put the ball into his own net, after Kim Min-woo's effort clipped him on the way into the Jeju goal.

The islanders would mount a late comeback of sorts, as Yun Il-lok pulled one back on 75 minutes, heading in Elias Aguilar's cross from a corner.  There was a thought for a foul, but the goal was allowed to stand after a VAR review.  Magno Cruz would convert from the spot eleven minutes later, as Jeju were awarded a bit of a dubious penalty, and it looked as though the match would end all square, if not for Yun Bit-garam's superb extra time free kick to give Sangju all three points on the afternoon, ending another match in heartbreak for winless United.

Highlights: here

Ulsan Hyundai 2-0 Gyeongnam FC

Gyeongnam traveled away to Ulsan, knowing that a result was going to be hard to come by, and as it turned out, the Horangi would be just too much for them on the day.  Kim Tae-hwan featured with a pair of assists, as Junior and Kim In-sung supplied the goals.

Gyeongnam was very much on the front foot for most of the first half in what started out a physical affair, but once Ulsan started turning the screws just past the half hour mark, it would not be long before they would find themselves in the lead, as Junior took control of a ball that found its way into his path, and he tapped home easily, taking Ulsan to halftime with a goal in their pocket.

Despite their best efforts to restore parity in the second half, Gyeongnam succumbed to another spell of pressure from the home side, as they got hit on the break, when Kim Tae-hwan raced down the right flank and crossed into the box, where Kim In-sung got his head to the ball and nodded home to double Ulsan's advantage ten minutes from time.  Gyeongnam will rue their missed opportunities, hoping that their finishing will be better when they visit the island on Saturday aftenoon.

Highlights: here 

Previous Meetings

Gyeongnam had a slight edge in the head to head series last season, winning twice, including in the Championship Round, while Jeju won once, and one match ended in a draw.  

The first match between the two went to the Changwon-based side by a score of 2-0, with Negueba and Takahiro Kunimoto finding the back of the net.  Jeju were reduced to ten men after Cho Yong-hyung was sent off with under ten minutes remaining in the first half.  The two played to a scoreless draw in the summertime, and then Lee Dong-su would provide some late match heroics for the islanders to steal a win in October.

The Championship Round match was decided by an own goal from Lee Kwang-seon, who directed the ball past Lee Chang-keun into the Jeju cage following some good pressure up top from Marcao.  It would be the loss which ultimately ended any faint hopes Jeju may have had to participate in continental competition in 2019.

Team News

The struggles continue for Jeju United, but a few players in particular have looked much better of late.  Magno Cruz scored his third goal of the season against Sangju, and Yun Il-lok and Elias Aguilar were also involved offensively.  In what has been a down year for the club thus far results wise, another player who has stood out has been Kim Ho-nam.  On paper, Jeju is still a very talented club, but being away from their true home has hurt them dearly in the first two months of the season.

The team will finally return home to the World Cup Stadium down on the south side of the island at the end of this month, and the hope is that it will turn their fortunes in the right direction.  Of course, there is still the match against Gyeongnam on Saturday, as well as next weekend's Sunday meeting against Suwon Bluewings, so they still have chances to pick up points before returning to Seogwipo.

Jeju played with a bit of a different look against Sangju, going with three at the back and three in attack, with Lee Chang-min occupying the right flank, and Kim Ho-nam dropping back into midfield on the left side.  Whether this is another experiment remains to be seen, but the tinkering continues in the absence of results.

They will now have to hope to salvage what they can from the spring portion of the season, with little to no room for error as the campaign soon heads into it's summer slate.  There are no suspensions and no major injuries,

In the most recent development, it was reported that Cho Sung-hwan has voluntarily resigned from his post.  A successor is yet to be named, but early indications are that the hire will come from within the organization.

Gyeongnam have some concern over Kunimoto who had to be substituted in the 22nd minute of the last match against Ulsan.  It is thought that he sustained a thigh injury, and had to be replaced by Lee Young-jae.  Another concern for last season's runners-up heading into the match is the status of Ha Sung-min, who reportedly suffered some sort of eye injury.  Both players will be monitored in the coming days to get an idea about when they will be able to return to action.

This puts some strain on the club, as they also have ACL commitments after their trip to Jeju in midweek following against Shandong Luneng, as they must travel to China for Matchday 5, where once again their backs will be against the wall as they attempt to secure a qualifying spot for the knockout stage.

Kim Jong-boo was quoted after the Ulsan match as saying, "I have a lot of difficulties due to recent injuries.  As I told you before the game, I have to run at about fifty per cent power.  I will focus on recovery and condition management for about a week," he concluded.


The Adversary

Gyeongnam suffered a crushing defeat at Munsu.  They started well in the first half, but the strikers' lack of finishing and the defenders' lack of concentration is what led to the defeat.  In particular, the Reds definitely have a defensive problem this season.  In the last several league games, the starting defenders are constantly changing.  It seems that manger Kim Jong-boo has not found any solid defenders for the team.  To make matters worse, Kunimoto, who led the Reds' offense, won’t be able to play in the coming up match due to injury.

The good thing is that Jordon Mutch’s suspension period is over so he will be the manager’s first option.  Also, Luc Castaignos has almost recovered from his injury.  However, it is unlikely that he will start; he may be called on from the bench.  The Dutchman was brought in to fill the gap left by Marcão’s departure.

Jeju, Gyeongnam's opponent this weekend, is the weakest team in the league and has not won a single match so far.  Even without Kunimoto, the Reds should be expected to score.  However, considering Gyeongnam’s defense, it will be difficult to predict the outcome of the match.

Again, manager Kim Jong-boo will probably use a 4-4-2 formation, yet there will be minor changes in the starting XI, considering that the match against Jeju is a warmup of sorts for the AFC away match  against Shandong Luneng FC.  Therefore, several rotation players will be in the starting XI against Jeju.  Kim Hyo-gi and Kim Seung-joon will lead the attack, and Jordon Mutch will be the key player in the midfield with several rotation players.  Lastly, Kwak Tae-hwi, who didn't appear in the last game, will probably be in charge of the defense. 


Jeju's struggles have been well documented this season.  Not only have they struggled to score goals, they are also lacking defensively at the back.  They had to come back from two goals down against Sangju late, and yet still managed to find a way to lose in injury time.

Gyeongnam have also had their struggles this season.  As already mentioned, their defensive record is currently the worst in the league, but they will likely be able to find enough offense to get past a team that has had a lot of difficulty keeping a lead the few times they have been in front this season, and playing from behind, as their play has fallen off after conceding.  Gyeongnam should be able to come away with three points from this one.

Prediction: Jeju United 1-2 Gyeongnam FC 

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